When you ask real estate entrepreneur Jessica Myers what’s her biggest accomplishment as a Black developer, she won’t say it’s being able to invest in major deals or even her title as one of the youngest Black hotel owners. She will tell you it’s the ability and opportunity to connect with people, and ultimately make an impact that will far outlast any building.

That same mindset is the driving force behind Myer’s latest goal to invest in and develop communities in Zanzibar, Tanzania and later other African nations.

Jessica Myers
Photo by: Jay Daniel (@itsjaydaniel)

A recent 2-week girls’ trip— that started in Nairobi, Kenya— took Myers and friends to Zanzibar. The trip was planned to celebrate her best friend’s birthday and the launch of some of the group’s new travel platform.

“I had been to Kenya before with my husband, but this time I was able to see more of the local side and how developed Nairobi really is,” Jessica Myers shared with Travel Noire. “It was absolutely beautiful. Especially knowing that I could see zebras roaming in the middle of the city in the national park, but then look out and see large buildings in the horizon.”

The group spent two days in the city before making their way to Zanzibar, Tanzania. Initially they stayed in a very remote part of town, and while it was nice, they wanted to move to a different area to get a different perspective.

Photo by: @Official_abduzo

After asking a friend of a friend, the group was able to book an amazing 7,000 sq. ft. villa overlooking the water. It came complete with a chef, butler, and two Masai warriors who kept guard during their stay.

“We felt so cared for and protected the entire time. Even our driver was amazing, and we ended up connecting with him on a deeper level. He is honestly the person that inspired me to look into this project.”

The women invited the driver over for dinner during their stay, and he shared stories of life in Zanzibar. He told the group about a woman whose husband had left her and her children after an arranged marriage, and how he [the driver] had taken on the effort of giving the woman $.40 out of each of his paychecks to help her care for her family.

Through her friend’s non-profit, Favor Friday, Inc., the group decided to step in and not only provide groceries to the woman and her family, but an entire village.

Photo by: @Official_abduzo

“Just seeing that, and knowing the resources I have access to through my platform, it really moved me to want to do more. And, it’s not just about developing buildings,” Jessica Myers added. “My belief is that, if you first develop the people, they will then have the tools and knowledge to develop the buildings, and ultimately create an entire sustainable ethos.”

Although the project is “primative” as Myers describes it, she foresees the entire plan coming together in about 5-10 years. She plans to connect with community leaders in Zanzibar, to see what exactly is needed first.

“If we can bring the resources and knowledge that we have access to, and match that with the instincts of our brothers and sisters there, the world will begin to see a different us. It starts with developing people, because developed people are able to develop cities and infrastructure.”

For Myers, this is also a full circle connection.

Courtesy of Jessica Myers

During her trip, she was able to visit one of the last slave ports for the ancestors in that area. It’s ironic because a project she is currently working on in the U.S. is also near a former slave port.

“It’s the taboo of developing and owning places where our ancestors were once sold,” she said. “My protest is in development. It’s truly a full circle connection, and I’m bridging the gaps through ownership. This is all coming from my heart. After all, real estate brings access.”

To learn more, or to keep up with the progress of Myer’s newest endeavor, you can visit her website: itsjessicamyers.com.