Skip to content

Vying to Become Africa’s Own Airbnb

Since Airbnb launched in 2008, it has taken the travel industry by storm. More than a decade later, the company has 6 million active listings worldwide in more than 200 countries. But one region it’s yet to crack is Africa. Cameroonian startup founder Nghombombong Minuifuong puts this down not to a lack of demand or supply, but the absence of one payment method that’s especially prevalent on the continent. Guests and hosts on Airbnb are unable to use mobile money, a system that lets users send and receive money through a cell phone. This is becoming increasingly popular in Africa, where there are over half a billion registered accounts, according to Global System for Mobile Communications (GSMA), an industry trade group. That’s why he launched Bongalo, a home rental platform that accepts mobile money. So far, Bongalo has received $320,000 through Google’s Black Founders Fund in Africa, a scheme that will see $4 million invested across 60 Black-founded startups on the continent, and it is currently ramping up to a round of seed funding. Even if Airbnb started to accept mobile money payments, Minuifuong is confident there is still space for his business.