CAPE TOWN – Creative sparks flew from the moment Jessika met the Tanzanian research assistant assigned to help her with her PhD about the Maasai people.
Jessika Nilsson, who spent much of her childhood in Tanzania, and Loserian Laizer, a Maasai elder, quickly formed a friendship that would evolve over time into a business partnership designed to spread the economic benefits of safari tourism.
Jessika, who was one of the delegates at Airbnb’s Africa Travel Summit on the democratization of tourism in Africa, explains “Loserian had been in tourism for almost 20 years as a ranger and as a tourist guide when we met.
We were together all the time doing research for my PhD. We met so many tourists and people in the safari industry and started spotting flaws we didn’t know how to fix. One flaw was that local people living in rural areas across Africa didn’t make much money from tourism.”
Although the 29-year-old Swede was initially unsure of how to go about solving the problem, she found inspiration through a random encounter. “In the summer of 2013, I was in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area when a Swedish diplomat wanted to check out Airbnb on her laptop. I’d never heard about it before then so I started researching the sharing economy model. And this really set things in motion for me.”