Entrepreneurship is a challenging road, but the number of small businesses with women leaders is growing. There’s data to suggest that female-founded companies outperform their male counterparts, made even more impressive by the fact that women only secure 2.3 percent of venture capital funding. The travel sector is also growing with female entrepreneurs, and below are eight that are changing the industry with their businesses. By Iona Brannon
Grace Lee of WishPoints and Million Patients Cured
In 2016, Grace Lee founded WishPoints, an app that allows friends to connect and share travel plans and advice. A few years later, she launched Million Patients Cured, a website that offers a public-friendly platform to help travellers understand mandates, testing sites, and clinical research within three clicks of a geographical search.
As an entrepreneur, one of her proudest moments was building a team of 32 scientists, public health experts, programmers, and social impact activists that work together to bring accessible information on the pandemic, with a searchable mandate database for all 50 states in the USA.
Preeti Suri of AdventureTripr
When Preeti Suri launched AdventureTripr, she had one goal: to make the outdoors accessible. She first started hiking after she gave birth, which helped in her physical and mental recovery. “As I got started, though, I realised how few resources there were for someone like me: an Indian mom with no outdoor experience,” says Suri. “That’s what inspired AdvenureTripr.”
AdventureTripr gives travellers a fully customised itinerary based on preference and skill. It also includes details such as safety instructions, gear information, and more. Suri’s proudest moment on this journey? “For me, climbing to the top of a mountain is an empowering feeling,” she says. “I’m proud of the fact that I’ve created a company and community that allows people to realise that they, too, can experience the incredible feeling of adventuring outside.”
Kristin Braswell of CrushGlobal
Kristin Braswell is the founder of CrushGlobal, a company with a mission to connect travellers worldwide to experiences that leave them with a deeper understanding of the place they’re visiting.
Her proudest moment so far has been that she’s kept going, especially through a pandemic that devastated so many travel companies. She even recently launched an initiative to get American travellers to explore the USA through road trips and support POC-owned businesses along the way. Since the launch, her perseverance has paid off and the initiative has continued to build momentum.
Youmie Jean Francois of Flex-n-Fly
Founded by Youmie Jean Francois in March 2018, Flex-n-Fly is a company that provides yoga and relaxation classes to travellers who suffer from anxiety. She noticed how chaotic the airport was and wanted to offer travellers a place of serenity, so they can enjoy the journey rather than stress over reaching their destination.
She’s proud of the fact that her products are sustainably and ethically made, as well as the recognition she’s received by her peers — she was chosen as the health and wellness company of the year by Buy From a Black Woman.
Sequoia Armstrong of Puebla York
Sequoia Armstrong founded Puebla York to give people a sustainable culinary experience in Japan and Mexico. She wanted to encourage travellers to support small businesses, have meaningful experiences, and put the planet first in their plans.
Puebla York was born in 2019, and Armstrong is most proud of giving back to organisations doing impactful work and creating a brand that resonates with people. She’s also proud of the community that has grown around that.
Imani Bashir of The Takeoff Collection
Imani Bashir is a Black American journalist who started her company, The Takeoff Collection, in 2020 while living in Mexico. She wanted to create something she was passionate about, and as the idea developed into a product, the Expat Bag came to life.
The Takeoff Collection’s mission is to get people outside of the confines of what they know by introducing them to the world of travel and providing products that make their journeys more seamless. Bashir is particularly proud of how the market has responded to her product’s quality, validating the usefulness of the Expat Bag.
Katalina Mayorga of El Camino Travel
El Camino Travel was started in 2014 by Katalina Mayorga with the mission to build the world’s leading digital community for bold female travellers.
Noticing that no major companies prioritised female travellers, especially when it came to safety, Mayorga began building options to give women opportunities to experience exciting destinations while validating their concerns. Today, the company’s services and products empower women to travel confidently, tap into the local culture, and have more genuine experiences. In her time as an entrepreneur, Mayorga is most proud of her work with former gang members-turned-tour guides in Bogotá, Colombia, and her collaborations with Indigenous communities in Oaxaca, Mexico.
Souta Calling Last of Indigenous Vision
Indigenous Vision was founded in 2015 by Souta Calling Last to “revitalise Indigenous communities — culture, people, and land — by providing educational resources through quality programs that promote well-being,” according to the website.
One of her proudest accomplishments is the Cultural Conservation Land Trust. This program helps Indigenous communities get access to significant places located on private properties. Now, they’re in the process of developing an interactive app that will give people information on historical sites and Indigenous businesses to support.