Lilian: From housemaind to founding and leading Lakii Adventures

Lilian Akinyi. PHOTO | COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • Usually, when one owns a travel agent company, people expect them to have a lot of academic and professional qualifications and awards, but for Lilian, it’s just a diploma from the International Air Transport Association

How you feel and appreciate yourself is one of the steps that can literally elevate any progress.

It’s known that cultivating and maintaining confidence isn’t easy, especially when you’ve failed multiple times and no one is around to give you support.

For Lilian Akinyi, the CEO and managing director of Lakii Adventures Company Limited in Arusha, Tanzania, self-esteem and self-belief are also very important.

She started working as a housemaid for years. She then moved to hairdressing. She later established her own company, Lakii Adventures.

She had been in the travelling industry for over a decade before actually venturing into it as an outbound travel and tour consultant.

Usually, when one owns a travel agent company, people expect them to have a lot of academic and professional qualifications and awards, but for Lilian, it’s just a diploma from the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

A diploma that she acquired when saving her money bit by bit to self-finance her education in pursuit of a dream that captured them while browsing online courses on search engines. Career

“There was no one to show me the way; it was my curiosity to explore the internet and conduct searches on the search engine that led me to discover online travel courses.

“Due to my slim figure, I found myself admiring the way cabin crew dressed, and I fell in love with this industry. That’s when I started studying these things,” she shares.

Ms Lilian shares that she comes from a humble background where mediocrity is very normal and no one aims for a better future.

“Walking down to fetch water from the community borehole, I would imagine myself as a successful individual in life. I would even look for a quiet place under a tree along the way and just sit down and start imagining how my life could be different in the future,” she recalls.

Born and raised in Kenya, Lilian’s journey was filled with discouraging obstacles that, realistically, are not easy to overcome, especially when entering a country where one has no relatives, friends, or acquaintances to lend a helping hand when one is on the verge of giving up on moving forward.

Before deciding to come to Tanzania, Lilian worked as a housemaid for a year in Kenya.

Later on, she quit and decided to join the hairdressing industry at Kenyatta Market in Nairobi, which played a certain role in moulding her bigger self.

In 2010, she decided to join the International Air Transport Association online course at the Kenya Airways pride centre.

The reason she chose online studies is because she didn’t have enough time to join physical classes.

“So, here I would go to an internet café, attend my class, and go back to work,” she shares.

While working as a hairdresser, she comes across a Tanzanian lady who, eventually, changed her life after she was invited to hairdress the family’s member of that woman in Arusha.

“I remember it was around 2011, when that woman organised the trips for me and my colleague to Arusha for two weeks to hairdress her family,” she explains.

After spending two weeks in Arusha, Lilian returns to Kenya. However, life there becomes unexpectedly challenging, prompting her decision to return to Tanzania.

She chooses to pursue a career as a hairdresser, partnering with the client who initially invited her to Tanzania and opening a salon.

While in Arusha, she still wants to pursue her dream on the IATA. So she decides to tell her boss about the education.

Given the green light to go ahead, Lilian enrolled at Jamio Link College in Arusha.

“While at Jamio, I successfully graduated with a diploma and earned the distinction of being named the best student. One of the remarkable aspects of Jamio College is their commitment to assisting their top-performing students in finding employment opportunities. It was through this support that my journey as a travel and tour consultant began,” says Lilian.

In 2013, she had her first job in Moshi, Tanzania, where she worked for a few months and then went back to Arusha.

“The college secured an internship for me at one of the travel agencies in Moshi, where I worked for a few months, then later moved on to Arusha for a better-paying position up until 2020.”

“I realised I needed a better path in my career when I didn’t get any financial support from my former employer at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. I felt like a lost puppy and couldn’t afford a meal.” She recounts.

According to Lilian, she narrates that she never envisioned being a travel consultant when she was growing up.

But that changed when she was searching online.

“Honestly, I didn’t know what exactly I wanted until I stumbled into travel careers on my online search, and I knew that’s exactly what I wanted. Also, I got more inspired when I started my classes, and I could talk to my fellow students who were already working in the same field,” she shares.

Speaking from her experience as a travel consultant, Lilian shares that poor self-esteem is what derails women’s progress in the corporate world.

“This is actually the silent career killer. Seeing others as smarter, better, and more liked makes one feel small and unsure about themselves. How you feel about yourself is very crucial and can literally elevate your progress,” she explains.

However, she further added that the best way to ensure that more women attain leadership positions in travel consultant agencies is through a mentorship programme.

She believes that it offers crucial support and encouragement, instills confidence and promotes personal and professional growth.

Lilian advises women who are embarking on their career journey that they need to embrace continuing learning.

“Acquiring new skills and staying up-to-date with industry trends will make you a valuable asset to any organization. Cultivate a growth mindset that encourages you to learn from both successes and failures,” she shares.

However, she further added that she should embrace failure as a stepping stone.

In any successful career, setbacks and failures are inevitable. Women need to embrace failure as a necessary step on the path to success and learn to bounce back stronger than ever.