Your name and what do you do?
My name is Fatma Abu Mohamed. I operate a Travel Agency based in Mombasa called Zaras Travel. Apart from airline tickets Zaras also offers Hotel Packages, Visa, Tours and Safaris.
Why did you decide to start your own travel agency?
Since my childhood my dream and passion was to work in this sector of travel and hospitality. After completion of my education, I enrolled and attained the required requisite which enabled me to be employed with our national airline carrier Kenya Airways (KQ) for 7 years. During my tenure at KQ, my dream was to start my own travel agency, and with the experience and network I had built; I then made the bold move in 2010 to start Zaras Travel. Just like any other businesses, Zaras Travel met many obstacles, but this did not deter me to have patience and persevere. The challenges I faced made me more focused, and with the will of Allah SubhanaWatAllah Zaras Travel managed to survive and at present is one of the leading travel agencies owned and run by a Kenya Muslim lady in Mombasa. I am proud that Zaras Travel is not only an office where you can book your tickets but also Zaras Travel mentors and takes new graduates as internship. I thank The Almighty Allah, for guiding me this far.
How do you find the lowest prices for your clients?
Most of the times after hours when the world is asleep. Ssshhhh don’t tell anyone
What is the most common misconception people have about travel agents?
Passengers always think travel agents rip them off. However this is not the truth. We do care and try to cater for our clients’ needs and we do advise them on tickets fares when is low season … issues of Visas and addressing many of their concerns.
How often do you travel?
At least thrice a year with my family.
What are the three most common travel destinations from Mombasa?
London, Dubai and Bombay.
As a female, how does it feel running a successful business?
Thank you for titling my business as a successful one, but yes it feels awesome. At Zaras Travel, we try to empower our young ladies. 90% of our staff are ladies. The gender gap in employment opportunity in Sub Saharan Africa is very wide. Although the demographic composition of many of our counties are women, it is sad to see that men are much favoured in employment opportunities than us-women. Hence there is a greater need for us already in businesses to empower our girls and ladies to counter this by mentoring and offering them equal opportunities so that they can make their contribution in society. I want everyone to know that women run Zaras Travel and they make it a success story. I also attribute this success to my family especially my husband Abubakar Hashim Sheikh. He is a pillar of my success, advisor and always encourages me to keep going.
You won Al Muslimah Magazine Top 30 under 40 awards, how does it feel?
Al-Muslimah kicked off 2016 for me one of my very first accomplishments. Felt great. Al- Muslimah encouraged me to do more for our Community and appreciate our environment. I felt very honoured yet humbled by the award. Truly encouraged me to work harder and offer this as an example to all girls and women.
What advice would you give to upcoming women entrepreneurs?
Ladies, YES YOU CAN! LIVE IT.LOVE IT. There is no limit, keep pushing…. Girls/Women Power!
I feel humbled for this opportunity to be part of the ‘Life in Mombasa – Jina langu Ni’ blog. I want women from all corners and walks of life to know they are special, smart and beautiful. Ladies, Be for you. Work for you. Live for you.