Kenyan tourism startup Purple Elephant Ventures raises $1M pre-seed funding


Purple Elephant Ventures , a Kenyan-based venture studio that focus on tourism has raised $1 million pre-seed funding aimed at building the next generation of startups that use technology to modernize the tourism sector.

The investors  who participated in the funding round  include Klister Credit Corp, a Canadian investment firm, The Untours Foundation, and a number of angel backers such as Fede Pirzio-Biroli, founder of Playfair Capital; Ian McCaig, former CEO of and M-Kopa board member; Anthony Rock, president of Rock Impact Capital; Rich Hoops, executive director at Impact Capital; Jim Villanueva, managing director of Global Partnerships Social Venture Fund, and Helena Riese Harstad, co-founder and chair of the Optimizer Foundation.

 CEO, Ben Peterson, who co-founded the startup with Mikul Shah, and Jan van der Does de Willebois, in early 2020 said,“I think what’s exciting for the team is all of the possibilities to digitize tourism for a greener future. And one of the great advantages of working in a studio is that we get to play around with new innovative ideas all the time. We have what we call ideation sessions, where we have very structured conversations around examining the tourism industry from the perspective of building businesses that will help reduce the carbon footprint of Africa’s tourism industry.”

The African tourism sector is expected to grow at 6.8%, double the rate of the continent’s overall economy, to hit $279 billion, over the next decade, as the industry makes a strong recovery from the effects of the COVID pandemic. This is according to data from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), which also shows that 14 million new jobs will be created during that period. 

Since its launch, Purple Elephant Ventures has launched two startups. The first is Nomad Africa, a content-to-commerce business that informs Africa’s domestic tourism market about sustainable and local travel experiences. The other isElephant Bookings, a SaaS business that helps African hospitality providers become more efficient by getting online. The start up intends to lead Africa’s tourism industry toward a greener future

CEO Mr. Peterson said further inquiry revealed that the industry in Africa was ripe for disruption, especially because the sector is among the fastest growing in the world.

“I realized there’s an issue with modernization of this industry and we started to look at it a little bit further. And I quickly came to the conclusion that there wasn’t just one business opportunity to modernize the tourism sector. There were dozens of potential ways to do it.”