Success Story: How Franck Leya Fled DR Congo To Start A Tour Company In South Africa

by Duke Magazine

“I moved to a new country, and that’s where my love of travel started. “After my dad was charged with treason, we started moving to different African countries based on their diplomatic ties,” Franck Leya, who was born in Tanzania and later became an entrepreneur, told Forbes Africa about how he and his family left the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).


The trip was long and scary as hell. In the late 1990s, Leya and his family left the DRC because his father was working as a political journalist there. They had to move from one African country to another until they could finally rebuild their lives in South Africa.


“When we got to South Africa, things were different because my dad had applied for asylum. When compared to other African countries, the laws here were different,” said Leya. “I became interested in telling stories because I moved around so much and always had interesting stories I wanted to share.”


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This was important because his mother had told him to be careful around certain places and buildings when he was growing up in Johannesburg. “Even though the inner city was seen as “dangerous,” it was the only place I could call home because it was full of different kinds of people and accepted everyone,” he said.


His first tour business started when he was a student at St. John’s College. He would sneak his friends out of rugby tournaments so he could show them around Yeoville. As demand grew, he started charging for this service.


He told Forbes Africa, “The first tour I ran was in 2013. I took a group of college boys out to see what Yeoville was like at night.”


Later, he met his mentor at Ernst & Young, who was running a tourism business called Dlala Nje. At the time, Leya was going to school through Unisa to study Economics and Ecometrics. He got a job with Dlala Nje as a tour guide. He worked at Dlala Nje for five years before he graduated and started his own tour company, Honest Travel Experience.


“I didn’t like how tourism was done in the inner city because a lot of what people were watching was poverty porn, which means showing people the bad side of something while making money off of it. What was being sold was, in essence, my life. I felt like it could be done better. He said, “This is what gave me the idea for my brand.”


His business, which started in 2019, offers trips to Cape Town, Durban, and Johannesburg. There are walking tours, bike tours, and tours on electric scooters that cover history, graffiti, nightlife, art, food, and markets.


Leya used technology to stay in business when Covid-19 hit. He had already started giving virtual tours, which turned into Zoom tours and silent discos. During the lockdown, online forums were used to host international guests. He said that Leya and his company recently bought their fleet of e-scooters so that tours would continue to be available and affordable. Now, his business has 58 scooters.


“We are also looking into how to power the scooters with solar energy. E-scooters could change the way people think about traveling short distances in Africa, which is where we’d like to grow.

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Success Story: A Look At How This Entrepreneur Was Inspired By A Health Crisis To Own A Multi-Million Dollar Business | Duke International Magazine May 26, 2022 - 6:39 am

[…] Success Story: How Franck Leya Fled DR Congo To Start A Tour Company In South Africa […]


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