Girl power, Girls Trip: Empowering women through travel

Girls Trip Tours is a new travel concept. Founder Eyitemi Popo aims to empower women through curated voyages to African destinations.

“Africa is a part of the world that people don’t think of travelling to, especially not single women or women travelling alone. I wanted to open that up and create a way for people to easily explore the continent.”

The idea actually came from readers of Ayiba Magazine, Eyitemi’s online magazine that seeks to break down perpetuating stereotypes of Africa by telling stories that exemplify the complexity of African identity. “People wrote in to me after reading our travel articles and said think like, ‘I really want to explore Africa, I’ve never been to the continent… 54 countries, I really don’t know where to start’.”

By empowering young women to explore Africa, Girls Trip is unique in developing a social travel network, for women by women, in an under-explored part of the world. “I feel like there are quite a few travel experiences out there for Africa, but none of them cater specifically to women,” says Eyitemi.

First Destination: Ghana, July 2018

Image Courtesy of Eyitemi Popo

But the truly innovative aspect of Girls Trip is the connection the travelers will make with two groups of local women. The first group is local female entrepreneurs. In the process of discovering the history, culture, sites and natural beauty of Ghana, Girls Trip travelers will also meet with restaurant owners, fashion designers, shop owners and female tech entrepreneurs.

The itinerary includes a meal with a popular local chef, art gallery visits, shopping in an open-air market and at local boutiques, a visit with a celebrity stylist, experiencing nature at Kakum National Park, visiting the Cape Coast to explore Elmina Castle and Ghana’s slave history, and of course, relaxing on the beach at a resort.

“There are no trips that show Africa from a female perspective. And it is such a strong part of the African story, what African women do daily, whether it’s for their families or for the economy. I wanted to create an experience where travellers could see that. Not just spotlight the women and tell their stories, but also help move their businesses forward.”

Mentorship project

Travelers will also contribute to the further development of the second group: 20 young (aged between 13-19), ambitious Ghanaians female coders from the Soronko Academy in Accra: West Africa’s first human-centered design school.

Eyitemi explains how it works: “‘You can only aspire to what you see, and they might not see examples of strong professional women all the time. The mentorship part of the trip is to give them the confidence to pursue their passion. It’s about bonding with the girls and we’ll do that as they follow us to some of the destinations around Accra, to see another side of their country that they may not have access to all the time.”

There will also be a full-day of workshops lead by local business women or the travellers themselves. In this way, Girls Trip is an opportunity for women from many different backgrounds – black millennial women from the Americas, women from other African countries, women who are looking for their roots, or those who are thinking relocating to the continent – to explore a new country, network, share dreams, learn from each other and also pass on their knowledge and experience to a new generation of future leaders.

Long-term impact

Eyitemi wants the impact of the project to go beyond the immediate effect of the contacts and networks established during the trip. Through Girls Trip she is also starting a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds that will enable her to continue supporting the girls throughout the year. The goal is to equip these girls with the skills they need to not just to cope, but to thrive in the digital age.

“The two weeks that we spend with the girls is kind of the kick off for the mentorship programme, but throughout the year I will continue to support them by providing scholarships, fellowships and internships. That is what the crowdfunding is for, to create this fund so that in each country we visit with Girls Trip, we recruit a new class of mentees and continuously support them through our network.”

Eyitemi Popo is Nigerian-born. She grew up in New York City and spent a few years in the Republic of Benin. That the theme of this first trip is technology comes from her own background. Her current day-job is as an innovation strategist for a financial company in Toronto, Ontario from where she also runs Ayiba Magazine and Girls Trip.

The crowdfunding campaign continues until March 8, International Women’s Day. For more information visit the campaign here. If you would like to be among the women on Girls Trip’s first excursion to Ghana, visit the Girls Trip Tours website.

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