Meet Johanna Mukoki, MD and founder of Travel with Flair.   Johanna is a continent leading tourism female entrepreneur who hails from Orlando, Soweto South Africa. She is the first African to sit on the Global Tourism Board.

At a tender age of 11, Mukoki worked hard enough in school to support her family’s business by selling ice cream, boiled eggs and raw meat in the dusty streets of Orlando, Soweto.  Mukoki says, “It trained me that life is not a picnic and I need to work hard,”

Johanna Mukoki

In everything she did, she pushed herself hard. With a B.COMM Degree from Rhodes University, and doing her articles at KPMG and Aiken and Peat, she considered doing business on her own after realizing how highly she was sought-after by companies in her field. ‘I thought that if people wanted me to be in their companies this much,why not start my own company? says Mukoki. With steely determination, she pieced together her plan to make the most of her qualification and experience. Getting a seed capital to start the business proved to been an obstacle, banks were not interested in funding a woman, based on sexist assumptions around their ability to run businesses, but that did not deter her dream.

In 1996, she met her business partners Robert Wilke and Tibor Zsadanyi, the company’s CEO and COO respectively. With a start up loan of R 1.5 million and a water-tight business plan, they established the award – winning agency of the year. Within two years, the start up loan was paid. Travel With Flair mushroomed from one branch in Pretoria to branches in Johannesburg, Capetown, KwaZulu-Natal and 19 in-house branches, with a total staff  complement of over 550 employers most of whom are female.

The company also established the Gauteng Travel Academy to train travel booking consultants in the travel and tourism industry. Johanna’s excellence has led her to being a much celebrated female entrepreneur with multiple prestigious acolades and for the past decades women have also been getting recognition. Mukoki is a finalist for 2012 Businesswoman of the year award.

“The travel business is dynamic. You need to ensure you keep your first foot forward and keep ahead of technologies,” ….

“Partnering with hotels and other players in the hospitality industry is not easy; every relationship hinges on the kind of business and payment terms,”….“We make sure that we pay our partners timeously. News travels fast in this industry, people will not recommend us if we don’t deliver on this.”  says Mukoki

Mukoki strongly advocates that while the South African education system needs to be improved, young people need to grab the opportunities that are available to them…”Nothing in life comes easy… our background does not definitely determine our outcome. you certainly can be better than the background where you come from…”

Mukoki is such an inspirational person, inspiring so many young people in Africa and all over the world,

Read more about  Travel and Fair here

Read more about this amazing lady in the December/January issue of Forbes Woman Africa

Credit: Johanna Mukoki/Forbes Woman Africa