Victoria Falls SMEs honoured for major role in tourism ecosystem

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The Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism, and Hospitality Industry and sector players honoured small enterprises in Victoria Falls for playing a key role to the tourism ecosystem, for their job-creating power, entrepreneurialism and driving sustainable development.

In that regard, the tourism industry and government came together yesterday to celebrate 20 of the most promising small companies in Victoria Falls, and pledge further support.

The informal ceremony at Pure Africa Waterfront was organised by the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry (MECHTI), and the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA). Dr Douglas Runyowa, Chief Director of MECHTI announced the winners of a competition that was organised by the government and supported by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) under the Zimbabwe Destination Development Program.

“The Ministry recognizes the importance of small enterprise to the tourism ecosystem, for their job-creating power, their entrepreneurialism and their role in driving sustainable development. We prioritized their support in our National Tourism Recovery and Growth Strategy, committing to support small players with training, skills upgrades, and access to markets.

“Exactly a year ago, we ran a small competition in Victoria Falls, under a destination development program supported by IFC. The competition was called ’20 for 20’ and aimed to find 20 promising small businesses who were adding value by bringing a diverse, authentic experience to Victoria Falls. These businesses would win marketing material in the form of 20 professional photos, a promotional video, a year’s listing on the itinerary-building platform Wetu, and representation – through Boundless Southern Africa – at several virtual trade shows in the region. We would like to thank these partners for their support,” Dr. Runyowa said.

Somvelo Dhlamini, the Mayor of Victoria Falls encouraged smaller tourism players in the city to do all they can to foster inclusivity and make sure that their growth benefits all stakeholders.

“The smaller businesses that grow from our grassroots help to employ our local people, keep our young people here, and foster the soul of our city. I am full of admiration for the new ideas that I see coming up (- I was just informed of a new small business collaboration last week – combining star-gazing and remote luxury dining in the bush – Imagine!). And I am full of admiration for the ways in which our local businesses have managed to survive through this pandemic. It has not been without its losses – but we are a resilient community and I look forward to seeing what we will all do with the next chapter,” Dhlamini said.

The event was well-received. “It has been a challenging time and we are thrilled to be a winner of this competition, to have won the marketing material that we are already putting to good use,”  said Prince Ngwenya of the Victoria Falls Canoeing Company. “We want to grow and show the world what we can do.”

Winners of the competition include canoeing expedition providers, horse safaris, boutique accommodation, off-the-beaten-track guides, astronomers, village and community tours.

The competition was run in partnership with Boundless Southern Africa and coordinated by We Are Victoria Falls. It was open to all small businesses and entrepreneurs in Victoria Falls to find 20 winners with a diversity of products, strong market appeal, and growth potential. Winners were provided with bespoke professional marketing material and a year’s complimentary listing on B2B itinerary building platform.

Paul de Waal, CEO of Wetu says “we have the vision to transform the trade with technology that empowers our users. We are delighted to support these 20 SMEs in Victoria Falls to better access new markets.”

The celebratory event also marked the beginning of an international media tour of Victoria Falls, with local and regional travel journalists spending 5 days with the winning SMEs exploring grassroots itineraries and getting to know the entrepreneurs behind them. The tour was sponsored by Fastjet and Boundless Southern Africa – supported by SADC and GIZ.

Fastjet’s Digital Content and Media Officer, Nunurai Ndawana said “As a relatively small business ourselves, in the air travel sector, fastjet is a passionate supporter of all ventures in the tourism industry. There are many gems that make Victoria Falls a memorable and rewarding place to visit. It is a pleasure for fastjet to fly to one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World with regular flights within Zimbabwe and from South Africa.”

Fastjet flies to the Victoria Falls

In the following statement, the government unveiled plans to invest in SMEs over the next few years. “We are responding directly to requests from the SME community,” said Dr. Runyowa.

The plan, executed through the Zimbabwe Destination Development Program, will focus on providing world-class marketing training and mentoring to SMEs in Victoria Falls, as well as regulatory reform of the licensing and permitting system.

“We recognise that the burden of regulatory compliance can be disproportionally heavy for small enterprises,” said the Chief Director.

Analysis has already begun, and work is being carried out in partnership with the Tourism Business Council of Zimbabwe. Preliminary findings will be published in January 2022.


List of winning* SMEs


Routes Through Africa; Yvonne Jandles
Exclusive Touch Africa; Sid Hayes
DK Tours & Safaris; Webster Musaidzi
Africa Travel & Tours; Lovemore Machipisa
Rukoko Safaris; Sam Mushandu
Umdingi Safaris; Clint Robertson
Excellence Trails; Sisasenkosi
Tsowa Island; Francie Sherren
Discover Safaris; Charles Brightman
Victoria Falls Canoeing Company; Prince Ngwenya
WildSpoor Safaris; Lewis Mangaba
Nguni Lodge; Christine Reeves
Intondolo Safaris; Nkulukeko Mthunzi Moyo
Signature Africa; Travolta Chatyoka
Dzimbahwe House; Judith Dzimbanhete
Phezulu ; Farai Maburutse
Tatenda Safaris; Dr Gunda
Premier Guest Lodge; Tendayi Nemaungwe
Zambezi Horse Safaris; Alison Baker


*20 winners were selected and one voluntarily dropped out.