(CNN) – Since the release of Airbnb in 2008, it has flooded the travel industry. Sharing a home or renting an apartment has become a modern, and often more affordable, alternative to booking a hotel room.
Bongalo has listings in 12 cities across Cameroon and Rwanda.
“My vision is to build a platform that … improves travel across Africa by connecting people with affordable accommodation,” he says.
In terms of scale, the startup is still pale in comparison to Airbnb. Bongalo started in Cameroon in 2017 as a real estate company, but in 2019 relocated to Rwanda, turning to its current model. It has more than 1,000 properties registered in both countries and more than 5,000 users, Minuifuong says, but expects demand to increase as Africans can travel more freely across the continent by lifting Covid restrictions.
Domestic tourism across the continent has recovered rapidly since the Covid-19 outbreak, says Christele Chokossa, consultant at market research firm Euromonitor International, in part thanks to less stringent travel requirements in Africa and a local traveler-focused tourism industry. , says. .
Bongalo listings typically cost about $ 40 per night, says Minuifuong. You can book real estate, which is verified before being registered through the company website and will soon be available in an application. The platform is especially popular with customers between the ages of 25 and 35, he adds.
“The younger generation of tech-savvy travelers has embraced the convenience and affordability of a shared rental economy in recent years,” says Chokossa. “In countries like Cameroon, improved internet and social media penetration has given way to affordable hotel apartment rental options, as it has allowed homeowners to easily promote their services.”
Payment by phone
“The solution has penetrated so far into the African continent and everyone trusts it because of its simplicity and security. People prefer to use it over cards,” he says.
Bongalo also accepts credit and debit cards, targeting international tourists or the African diaspora, Minuifuong says – although he adds that the majority of visitors live on the continent and about half of them usually travel within their own country. For the less tech savvy who do not want to book online, startup has partnered with independent travel agents who can book a property directly for the customer or include it as part of a wider travel package.
In 2022, Minuifuong wants to expand Bongalo to C Εte d’Ivoire, Senegal and Kenya. In the long run, he hopes it will be available in all African countries.
Nghombombong Minuifuong (third from left) founded Bongalo five years ago.
The competition with Airbnb will be fierce, as “it has become a household name across the continent,” says Chokossa. However, he notes that the African market remains underdeveloped and that start-ups such as Bongalo, which are tailoring services to local consumers, “may intensify competition in the future, especially if they receive support from international investors”.
Even though Airbnb has started accepting mobile payments, Minuifuong is confident that there is still room for business.
“Competition with Airbnb is very likely because we understand how the market works,” he says. “It’s about people being more local and using local solutions.”