MALEFA ‘MEL’ TLHAPI, 34, founder of Mel Prods SA and Soweto Travel Shop. After a diagnosis of a major depressive disorder, in 2012, Mel found refuge in travelling and established Soweto Travel Shop. Both businesses are travel orientated but cater for two different markets. Mel Prods SA focuses on female-only travel and is now expanding into children’s travel, whereas Soweto Travel Shop caters for all markets.
Why a travel business? Travelling has turned out to be exactly the therapy I needed. I wanted to share this passion with many others, as well as share the sense of healing it has afforded me.
What are some of the joys and challenges of a travel business? The excitement of first-time passport holders resonates a lot with me. The biggest challenge I’ve experienced, to date, is clients approaching you not knowing what they want but expecting a lot.
How would you feel if the opportunity to travel were to cease being an option in your life? A part of me would die. I gave birth not so long ago and used to travel around with my daughter. However, the risks of travelling with a baby just became too much.
What’s next on your travel bucket list? Camping anywhere that’s green, under the stars with sounds of a waterfall, and lions roaring in the background.
HILDA PELO, 37, owner of Keeyah Travel Solutions turned her back on formal employment in April this year and decided to pursue her entrepreneurial passion.
Why a travel business? I worked in the US as an au pair for two years and fell in love with travelling. Subsequent to that, I worked in the travel industry for 12 years and thoroughly enjoyed it — I totally relish the process of planning a trip. There aren’t many black-owned travel agencies around and the idea of being one of the first few excited me.
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