When did you open Home of Friends and what inspired you to do so?
We opened our doors in September 2017. I was already living in Kapchorwa and inspired by the stunning nature (i.e. waterfalls, caves), amazing views and leisure opportunities such as hiking, mountain biking and running. However, when my friends and family came over, it was hard to find quality, mid-range accommodation. Together with a local agri-entrepreneur, who happened to have a spacious and green compound, we decided to open a Guesthouse.
What do you love most about Home of Friends?
1) The incredible sunsets.
2) The design of our rooms and restaurant with local stones from the Elgon mountains.
3) The joy of sports & play through the project we started for kids and sports coaches in our neighboring community.
What has been the most rewarding part of opening Home of Friends?
Being able to satisfy both the foreign guests and guests from Kapchorwa itself, by focusing on customer care and connection.
Secondly, to create jobs for neighbors who are now more empowered and self-reliant.
What has been your biggest challenge and how have you overcome this?
Power cuts are a major challenge in our area. We partly solved this through solar panels. And by lobbying for a new transformer in our village.
Tell us about your team!
We do a lot of team-building. We like to play games together, such as netball.
Every month we elect a 'worker of the month' amongst ourselves. The winner gets a kilo of sugar and bar of soap. And the winner is being raised on the shoulders by the other colleagues. I have learned that these small things matter a lot.
In weekly team meetings, we are learning to put issues on the table and find solutions together. We discuss reviews from our guests, both on the side of compliments and points of improvement.
And lastly, we take our staff for training, events, and tours outside Kapchorwa. Exposure matters and motivates a lot!
What's next for Home of Friends?
1) We want to be a hub for meaningful community impact, in three areas of great potential: sports, tourism and farming. In 2020 we will organize a series of 'Tedx' type talks and practical skill sessions, with experts from abroad and within.
2) Developing holiday and retreat packages, to let our guests fully immerse in our healthy environment. We recently launched a 'fitness retreat', 'wilderness hiking' and 'nature and cultural exploration' package. Check the link: https://www.african-retreats.com/destinations/uganda/
How has Tab helped Home of Friends?
Tab helps us to ease the payment process for both our guests and ourselves. We don't have to deal with loads of cash anymore (in Uganda you easily walk with a 10cm pile of notes in your hand!).
Why is Uganda a great place to visit?
1) Ugandans are the most friendly and welcoming people in the world.
2) Nature and culture are incredibly diverse: snow-peaked mountains, wildlife parks, the river Nile, rainforests, beautiful lakes, nomadic cultures, and waterfalls can all be experienced in a two- to three-week holiday.
Are there any trends or changes that you've noticed in tourism?
Our guests are more open for adventure and close interaction with the community.
What would your advice be for anyone thinking about starting their own hotel business?
Look for self-motivated people in your team who put passion above money.
You can find out more about Home of Friends Guesthouse on their website at http://www.homeoffriends.com.