As the world continues to evolve, travel enthusiasts are increasingly seeking authentic cultural experiences that go beyond the ordinary. For those with an Afrocentric inclination, the desire to explore the rich heritage and influence of Africa has long been a dream. Charles Shima, the visionary founder of ZaNiheza, embarked on a remarkable journey to transform this dream into a reality.

Inspiration Behind ZaNiheza

Charles Shima’s inspiration for creating ZaNiheza, a unique Afrocentric travel marketplace specializing in immersive experiences in Africa, is deeply rooted in his quest for cultural reconnection. A return trip to Rwanda after an absence of 24 years sparked the idea.

While preparing for his journey, he scoured the internet for cultural tours and experiences that would enable him to rediscover his roots. To his dismay, he found a conspicuous absence of offerings that could truly bridge the gap between travelers and authentic local experiences.

Photo credit: Charles Shima

However, Shima’s journey took an unexpected turn when he landed in Rwanda. In an encounter with a local guide, he discovered the true essence of connecting with his heritage. This local guide, in a spontaneous act of hospitality, took him to indigenous sites and introduced him to the vibrant culinary scene. It was this transformative moment that sowed the seeds of ZaNiheza.

Some Obstacles During Its Early Stages

The creation of ZaNiheza, however, was not without its trials. The pandemic posed challenges that could have deterred even the most resilient entrepreneur. However, Shima made a bold decision to persevere and continue building ZaNiheza.

The journey was marked by personal sacrifices, as Shima, a bootstrapped founder, invested his own savings into realizing his vision. This financial commitment, in an industry where travel tech often gets overshadowed by fintech, further underlines his dedication to ZaNiheza’s success.

ZaNiheza Afrocentric Focus

ZaNiheza is not just a travel marketplace; it’s a portal to Afrocentric experiences worldwide. It promises to take travelers on a journey that explores and celebrates the influence of Africa and cultures of African origin. Whether you’re booking tickets to an Afrobeat festival in Miami or planning a trip to Nigeria, ZaNiheza offers a unique and enriching perspective.

“ZaNiheza is a travel marketplace that aims to offer Afrocentric experiences & things to do around the world. By Afrocentric, we mean focusing on or influenced by Africa or cultures of African origin. Imagine booking an Afrobeat festival in Miami & then traveling to Nigeria soon after.  Our platform is a dual booking software & travel marketplace. We also are digitizing travel experiences in Africa & beyond,” Shima shared with Travel Noire.

Curators Of Culture

ZaNiheza’s platform combines the functionalities of dual booking software and a travel marketplace. Beyond that, it’s actively involved in digitizing travel experiences in Africa and beyond, expanding the horizons of cultural immersion.

“Local Curators on our platform are onboarded in three steps. During the first & second steps, we educate them on our vision & mission. We work with Local Curators in Africa to design experiences that showcase cities, culture, heritage, and much more,” Shima said.

ZaNiheza’s commitment to local communities and businesses is evident in its approach to solving practical problems. One of the most pressing issues for local partners is getting paid promptly, and ZaNiheza addresses this efficiently. The platform also educates its partners on building SEO-friendly itineraries, contributing to sustainable growth.

Opportunities For ZaNiheza

The platform’s impact extends to employment opportunities, with a significant focus on engaging the youth, considering that Africa boasts the youngest population globally. ZaNiheza is not just about business; it’s about giving back to the communities it serves, with plans to donate a portion of its profits to local organizations.

As for safety and security, ZaNiheza has it covered. The platform’s robust Know Your Customer (KYC) process for onboarding local curators guarantees the safety of travelers, reassuring them that they are in capable hands when they book an experience through ZaNiheza.

“Since founding ZaNiheza, I pitched the platform to be AI-powered. We are building the foundation to get us there,” Shima shared. “As we raise additional funds, we are going to build an app & add more experiences. We aim to reach 1,000 Afrocentric experiences in the next five years. I dream that Black travelers & travel suppliers can embrace ZaNiheza – the platform built by us and for us.”