January 28, 2022|8 Minutes|In Risk and Glory, Risk & Glory League|Mahider TadesseBy Mahider Tadesse

Risk and Glory

Africa needs to overcome the negative.

I realized the opportunity and potential of the industry after that first event. 

As a high school student, I enjoyed planning fundraisers, concerts;  any type of party. It was love from the first event to the next that kept me going. Even though I started studying accounting after high school, I quickly dropped out and started an event planning business with less than $150 in capital. I planned my first event for the Society of Human Resource Management, in Ethiopia, and got paid $150. I realized the opportunity and potential of the industry after that first event.

We now operate in 14 eastern and southern African countries and North America, yet,  the road to get here wasn’t easy, nor straight. I had been planning events in Addis Ababa for about 3 years when one of my client’s asked me to plan an event in Djibouti. I was young and naïve; I remember flying to Djibouti the next week to start planning a high-level board meeting. It took three days in Djibouti for me to realize how hard it is to plan an event in a foreign country; even when that country is your next-door neighbour. Funnily enough, that was the first time I visited another African country. Since then, I have been learning about Africa and growing in Africa. In order for any association, business or non-profit to plan an event they need to be able to find event venues, hotels, transportation service providers, photographers, florists, interpreters … basically any type of vendor via online search.

In most developed countries, cities have either a convention bureau or a visitors bureau that can support anyone to plan an event in their city. Unfortunately, a vast majority of African countries don’t have a convention bureau. So,  someone like me can’t just fly 69 minutes from home to plan an event in Djibouti. This also means someone from Djibouti, or any neighbouring country, can’t simply fly to Addis Ababa to plan an event either.

The next event I had to plan was in Nairobi for 300 people. I had emailed more than 30 hotels, before I flew to Nairobi to inquire in person. This was the moment when the idea for Hallpax was conceived. I wanted to make event planning simple for anyone planning an event in Africa. It took me a few years before I saved up sufficient capital to get started.

Hallpax was incorporated in Maryland, USA in 2019 with just $109,000 in capital. We had already built a very strong partnership in a number of destinations in eastern and southern African countries. We wanted Hallpax to be more than an event planning company, we are building a company that promotes Africa as a MICE destination – that is, meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions Of course, many years after my experience in Djibouti I was still naive when starting Hallpax. Promoting Africa as a MICE destination isn’t a simple task.

It is a tough sell up against staging events in Europe The top three searched words about Rome from the United States are: Roman Empire; the Vatican City and Rome Pizza. The top three searched words about Nairobi from the United States are: time in Nairobi; Nairobi money heist and Nairobi foam.

Africa suffers from years of negative media coverage. We haven’t promoted our people, nature, culture, history or services among ourselves, let alone to the rest of the world. Our beautiful continent lacks good marketing. We need an overwhelming amount of positive stories and information available about destinations in Africa to overcome the negative image that has been built for decades.

Arnold Donald  once said, travel is the antidote to ignorance, the more people travel and see the world, the more they understand each other . the world becomes a better and safer place.

Mahider Tadesse

We feel very lucky to be part of the travel industry and do our part to build a positive image of Africa.

Hallpax now operates in 14 eastern and southern African countries making group travel to Africa less of a logistical nightmare and more adventurous. We work with over 300 hotels and event venues and over 100 small businesses that support the MICE industry. We get regular requests from hotels and event venues from countries we don’t yet cover to be enlisted with Hallpax. Even though we are currently focused on strengthening our presence in eastern and southern Africa, we know the potential for growth in Africa is big.

We are working hard and learning everyday what it takes to promote Africa as a MICE destination. The pandemic has significantly affected the travel industry. We have used this downtime to connect with more small businesses in Africa that support the MICE industry and  find reliable partners. We have also used our passion for event technology into good use, helping our clients plan virtual events during the pandemic.

Hallpax is dedicated to making your event planning process enjoyable and stress-free.

"RISK AND GLORY!  (What’s your story?)"

Billionaire Tomorrow launches a new section capturing the sacrifice, spirit and splendour of the African entrepreneur.

This is a section written by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs. Each piece is a snapshot in the struggles and triumphs of those who swim against the tide to risk their own money for uncertain reward. The thoughts of an entrepreneur who fights his, or her, way past the naysayers, sceptics and reluctant lenders to stake their claim.

The way to reward and glory? All too often, this is a rocky road, fringed with thorns, with slithering snakes in the shady undergrowth.

You can earn from telling these stories too. If you write for Risk and Glory you get a chance to earn our new token – The Bil. The more people who read your story, the more tokens you earn. Send me 800 words of your story to me at Chris@billionairetomorrow.com.

Check it out.

The Bil

Read, learn, think, discuss and change for the better. Reading Risk and Glory could change your story– enjoy!


Chris Bishop, Founding Editor, Billionaire Tomorrow.

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