Kate Webb, Founder of The Responsible Safari Company
Empowering emerging destinations and communities to stand on their own and not be reliant on the aid industry
We’d gone to uni and found jobs in London, but examining our lives, my husband and I began to question: “Is this it?” Aged 23, we packed our bags and set out to travel from Kenya to South Africa by any means. Over the next 12 months, we found work in a high-end eco safari lodge; it opened our eyes to how tourism can cause disparity among the community – skewing the local economy. I wanted to better understand the powerful dynamics at play, so I signed up for an online Masters degree in Tourism and completed it while we ran another lodge in Uganda.
Aged 26, we were shortlisted for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: managing an incredible paradise island! After much soul-searching, we took ourselves out of contention; what we really wanted was to run our own show!
We moved on to Malawi in 2007 and set up The Responsible Safari Company – a business that combines having an amazing adventure with learning about the challenges Africa faces. Our clients are everyone from schools, universities and families to charity fundraisers… people who want to connect with the world as global citizens.
After living in Malawi for seven years, we returned to the UK in 2014 to undergo IVF. It bothered me that I had that option, as well as the freedom to open a new UK office. I knew some amazing businesswomen in Malawi who had skills gaps holding them back, so I started organising seven-day expeditions that were part holiday, part adventure, part skill-sharing. Women get to push their boundaries and climb a mountain, and then spend time with Malawian entrepreneurs – teaching them how to use things like Excel and social media. It’s a celebration of female empowerment!
I’m busy these days as a hands-on mum of two, but I’ve also launched The Orbis Challenge with Dame Kelly Holmes. Passionate people with high fitness levels get to go running with Kelly in Malawi – visiting inspiring community initiatives tackling malnutrition. We call it ‘Sport with a Purpose’. That’s what I believe in: trade not aid. It shouldn’t be about coming to Africa and ‘saving’ poor people; it’s about purposeful travel that is educational, philanthropic, experiential and sustainable.