Photo Credit: Brafika
Inside Brafika: Brazil's Most Successful Black Woman-Owned Travel Agency
In 2019, Bia Moremi, a young Afro-Brazilian woman from São Paulo, had an idea that would change her life. After spending 10 years working regular jobs, she decided to create a travel agency focused on promoting Black Diaspora tours in Brazil and Africa. Two years later, Brafika was elected as the most successful Black woman-owned travel agency in Brazil by Panrotas Magazine, the greatest travel media outlet in the country.
Serving five states in the Latin American nation, three countries in Europe and also three nations in Africa, Brafika is a global company. With a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, Moremi worked in a multinational company for ten years before she decided to open her own travel agency.
“I had a very well-established career. But, all of a sudden, I had the idea to create Brafika Travels, and I’ve never been able to stop thinking about it,” she told Travel Noire.
Initially, Brafika Travel was created for Black Brazilians traveling to Africa to take DNA tests, and learn more about their ancestry.
“But soon, I realized that I could include other services related to Afrotourism,” she said. She has already taken the test herself and found her roots in Nigeria.
“I realized that in addition to the desire to travel to Africa, there was also a demand from other people to do the same. That’s when I saw that I could set up a travel agency that could provide that,” Moremi commented.
“We always try to work with the black history of the place. Our idea is to always connect the Blackness from the past to the Blackness of the present time that can be found in the cities that we work in.”
For Moremi, the impact that this Black woman-owned travel agency has on the Black movement in Brazil is very far-reaching and much greater than what she was able to see in the beginning.
“This impact was seen not only with black Brazilian tourists, but also in the places that received these tourists.
“My clients came to me saying: ‘Look, I’ve been to Europe, to the US, but I’d like to understand my history better, and there wasn’t a company that could approach the African continent in an urban and contemporary way, without being stereotyped. We want to learn things that “we didn’t learn at school’.
In relation to tourism on the African continent, the Brafika CEO said that the travel agency works to debunk the traditional racist tourism that is always related to Africa.
“Africa has urban cities as interesting for tourism as Berlin and New York. And it is this contact with African urbanity that we lack. There are scenarios, different flavors, music that Brafika seeks to connect.”
Then, the pandemic came, and she had to suspend the company’s activities in 2020.
“It was a moment of desolation. It was terrible,” she said. “I looked for a laboratory that performs the African ancestry DNA test and proposed a partnership.”
Now, in addition to the DNA test result, a package includes dinner for two with typical food from the region identified in the DNA, an ancestral rescue photo album from the area of origin and a metal bracelet engraved with the name of the African homeland, as well as consultancy to learn about the aesthetic influences of the place.
Despite the pandemic, Moremi already plans to resume next year.
“I do everything with my own money so far,” she said. “I am an investor in myself.”
She says that, while working as an employee, she used her salary to invest in the business.
The service has been available since June and helped maintain the agency this year.
“I prepared myself. I have a savings account because I knew I needed to have a mattress of at least a year to be able to dedicate myself 100% to the company.”
Being a Black woman entrepreneur in Brazil is no easy feat.
“In Brazil, we have to convince investors that Black women are capable of doing trivial things to show that we can also do incredible things. But in Brazil, it is still surprising for people to know that this is a Black woman-owned travel agency.”
Moremi’s hard work is paying off. In October, Brafika was elected as the best Afro-Brazilian tour agency in Brazil and the 50th best travel agency in the country.
“This result represents the opening of paths and affirmation of Afrotourism as an economic, social and environmental power”, she told Travel Noire.
For further information, visit Brafika’s website.