We are lucky here at The Peloton in that we get to discover and learn about many different businesses as we take on new clients. Every now and then you come across one that really inspires you and Orbis Expeditions did just that. Kate Webb, who runs the business with her husband Dom told me a bit about what they do and the challenges they face.
Could you tell me a bit about your business Kate?
We are a bespoke expedition company operating solely in Malawi. We work with Schools, Universities, Charities, Businesses and Individuals, encouraging as many people as we can to go to Malawi in order to learn about development and what it means to be a global citizen. We cater for all ages and are aimed at people who want to learn more about the destination, the challenges and opportunities that the people living there face.
How long have you been running Orbis Expeditions?
We’ve been running our sister company The Responsible Safari Company out of Malawi for ten years and our UK based Orbis Expeditions for the past 3 years.
What inspired you to start your business?
It was Dom who first fell in love with the Africa after travelling to rural Kenya in his gap year. We met a few years later and he persuaded me that instead of leaving London to sail round the world I should really come to Africa! Three months later we left London and arrived with backpacks to start a year of travel from Nairobi to Cape Town – by any means! A three month stint relief-managing a lodge in Kenya, followed by 9 months of travel using buses, bicycles, mopeds, boats, hitching lifts and crossing 7 borders we made it to Cape Town on the back of a vegetable lorry… and I was hooked!
Eighteen months later we were living in Uganda managing another lodge and sitting round the camp fire pondering our next step. I’d just finished my Masters degree in International development and Education and Dom was itching to take the next step into starting his own venture. With my passion for working with local communities and Dom’s passion for travel and tourism we decided to combine our two loves and create a company that offered ‘Experiential Travel to the more discerning traveller’. The Responsible Safari Company was born.
We arrived in Malawi three months later, I had a job lined up at an international school and Dom had the number of someone to speak to at immigration – how hard could it be to set up a company in Africa? Harder than we thought! It took six months to get registered and a lot of hoops to jump through, but the first enquiry came through on Christmas Eve and two years later I stopped my teaching job and joined Dom full time on the business to run the accounts, marketing and projects. From there we’ve grown an incredible team of passionate young Malawians who remain at the heart of RSC and Orbis Expeditions today.
What’s the best thing about running your own business?
You can do what you’re really passionate about and put all of your energy into growing something you really believe in and that you trust is making a positive difference to the world.
What would you say is the biggest challenge in your business today?
I think our biggest challenge is ensuring our business in Malawi is continuing to the level that we want it to. It’s so important to us that we deliver on our promise to people of offering them the most amazing experience, but there are so many elements that are out of our control (for example trusting the driver will be there to meet them at the airport on time or praying the gorgeous lodge we’ve booked them into wont have a power cut that week!).
We also sometimes find it hard to get the balance right between running the business and having ‘down-time’. We have two young children so often it all feels like a bit of a juggling act but we try to be strict with ourselves and enforce ‘no-work chat’ rules!
How do you promote your business?
Word of mouth is huge for us. We’re lucky that we have a lot of very happy customers who have a really powerful experience with us so they are very happy to share this with other people. Instagram also works well as people like the images that we share, I think it can transport them to a different place! We also write a lot of blogs and share these on our social media channels. At the moment we are working with three different marketing specialists – corporate, social strategy, education. We do this because we’re not really a one-size fits all sort of company so we need specialists in each area.
What made you decide to work with The Peloton?
We really liked the way they seemed like a young, cutting edge company who could create something bespoke for us. Our business model is ever-evolving and we feel that The Peloton are like this too and embrace it. Time is always a challenge for us so we need to work as efficiently as possible using the latest technology. We feel confident that The Peloton will keep us up to date with this.
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about Orbis Expeditions. If you think we might be able to help you then please contact us for a chat – we’d love to hear about your business!