In this episode, I’m joined by Amina Mohamed, the woman behind Triple F Photo Tours, which is a small tour operator that leads photography trips to places all over the world but specializes in trips to Uganda. Amina is also the mind behind Cameras For Girls, which is the charity arm of her tour business. On her photography trips to Uganda, guests have actually gotten to meet some of the women this travel charity supports.
Amina is one of those women who has a dream and goes for it. Her professional background had nothing to do with tourism until she woke up one day with the idea of leading tours to Uganda and has since built this fantastic business in a very difficult time. Because of Covid, she has only led a few tourists. That has been a big setback of course, but she’s still achieved so much in so little time. I’m particularly impressed with her commitment to incorporating a philanthropic edge into her business.
I think this is a growing trend in general, but especially in tourism people want to be more sustainable and ethically minded. Amina is committed to this mission beyond just the tourism aspect. She really wants to give back to the communities that she visits, which is just so inspiring. I hope you take something away from this episode and maybe it inspires you to think in different ways of how you could make your own business do good, not just for you, but for the communities and the people that you interact with on tour.
Ties to Uganda
Amina came to Canada from Uganda as a refugee because all Asians were made to leave the country. She was only three years old when that happened. In 2007 Amina got the opportunity to go back to Uganda for the first time since leaving as a young child and it was very different from the stories she’d heard about it. Seeing a lot of poverty and female inequality shaped the person she has become, but on that trip, she also fell in love with Uganda and the people.
Since that visit to Uganda, Amina has switched careers and adopted a child, and though she wanted to take her life in a new direction, the timing never seemed right. But one night in 2017 she woke up and decided to go back to Uganda and teach photography to local women. And that was the start of her travel charity and business.
Starting a travel charity
Amina really wanted to make a difference in the world. She could see how women in the developing world didn’t have the same opportunities that she did growing up in Canada.
She’s also had a longtime love for photography. “I grew up with a camera in my hand. My dad gave me his first camera. I was always with the camera.”
Combining these two dreams made sense and Amina has now run her charity for three years. She’s had the chance to teach women in Uganda and South Africa, some of whom even have full-time jobs now as a result.
Combining a travel business and charity
But Amina wasn’t happy just focusing on one thing, she wanted to add something else into the mix. Out of her passion for travel photography came the idea to start organizing photography tours and combine this with philanthropy by having the business support the charity.
“When I can bring travelers on a photo tour, help them immerse themselves into the local culture, learn about the local culture, and help them improve their photography, but at the same time, provide them an opportunity to give back in a meaningful way. There’s something different that we offer than the vast majority of photo tourism companies offer.”
Finding clients to come on tours
When she first started out, Amina did a lot of grassroots marketing. Posting on social media, reaching out to friends and family, asking everyone to come on her tours. “When you don’t have a budget, what are you going to do? You use every free available resource to market yourself.”
A lot of people were initially afraid of going to a destination such as Uganda that they were unfamiliar with, but now that she’s run a few tours, people keep asking when the next tour to Uganda will be.
Amina also reached out to a lot of tourism companies to try to partner up with them. At first, she didn’t have a lot of success with this approach, because her business was so small. But some of them have come back after seeing the business grow.
More from this episode
- Learn more about Amina’s tours. What is a typical day like, what is the length of the tour? What’s the style?
- Are the guests mostly hobbyists or are they people who are hoping to eventually pursue a career in photography?
- How might travel be different after Covid?
- Amina’s Uganda tours are 18 days long, how does she approach organizing this kind of trip?
- What has worked particularly well for Amina in growing her business and getting tours fully booked?
- How can you figure out how you can make a difference in the world, and perhaps pair your travel business with a charity?