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How EFSI benefits SMEs in Europe - KfW case study: Mingle Africa (Germany), sustainable travel agency

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Founded by Nora Witt and business partner Tatjana Jessica Spähn, Mingle Africa is a company whose goal is to become the first tour operator specialised in fair and sustainable study tours in sub-Saharan Africa, while also offering in-depth educational content about the region.

This business idea came up during their university years, when Nora and Tatjana were both enrolled in a Bachelor’s Degree in African Development Studies, juggling concepts like sustainable development policies. In addition to that, Tatjana undertook a Master’s Degree in Sustainable Tourism Management. Combining their fields of expertise, they came up with the inspiration of setting up a sustainable travel agency: “It is an unusual combination”, comments Nora. “We wanted to find a way to change the way people looked at Africa. In many people’s mind, travelling in Africa relates to participating in a Zulu warrior dance. We wanted to portray a different, more realistic image of African cultures, especially of the countries south of the Sahara.”

Nora and Tatjana eventually decided to participate in Germany’s largest regional competition for business start-ups in their region, the ‘Businessplan-Wettbewerb Berlin-Brandenburg’. After that, the opportunity of applying for an EU-guaranteed loan was offered to them: “The process to get the loan and start our business was rather easy! We were lucky enough to be approached by a bank right after the competition. We submitted our business plan and got a financing proposition straight away.”

Thanks to the Investment Plan for Europe, the EU initiative aiming at generating new investments in Europe through the support of small and medium-sized enterprises, Nora and Tatjana were able to start working on putting their business idea into practice. This loan, made possible through the German KfW Banking Group and backed by EIF, has since been helping Nora and Tatjana to cover their company’s costs.

It took them over a year to organise the first trips and they spent a further six months setting-up their marketing strategy. “We soon hope to be established on the market”, explains Nora in October 2016. “We just set up our dedicated website 10 days ago.”

Company:  Mingle Africa (Germany)

Type of business: Sustainable travel agency

EIF financing: COSME LGF, EFSI

Financial intermediary: KfW Bankengruppe

For further information about EIF intermediaries in Germany, please refer to: http://www.eif.org/what_we_do/where/de

 

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