Africa: Urworld Sim eases cost of communication-LUKHANYISO GIBA
Lukhanyiso Giba is a partner and director of Urworld Sim. She was in Lagos recently to attend Akwaaba African Market Travel Market where she spoke to ANDREW IRO OKUNGBOWA on the cost saving benefits of Urworld SIM for travellers and her passion for travels among other issues.
Lukhanyiso Giba, a South African, can’t easily disguise her passion for the travel industry, as her love for the industry shines through the moment she begins to make a pitch for her travel product, Urworld SIM, which according to her, is a product of her quest for offering solutions to challenges encountered by travellers. She started her career in the aviation industry, where she cut her teeth, with South African Express Airways, garnering experience in virtually all aspects of the industry, including; marketing, sales, business development and logistics.
With a management development background from the University of Stellenbosch, Cape Town, South Africa, and a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) in International Hospitality Management from AGSB- Switzerland. She escribes herself as a hotelier, with a deep passion for service, beautiful spaces, luxury travels, communications, events planning and media. Giba, in the course of her over three years studies in Switzerland, besides picking- up French as a foreign language, she travelled frequently between Switzerland, France, Italy and South Africa, where she engaged actively with some of the major players in the travel industry from both government and private operators.
On her return to her country in 2014, Giba worked with Four Seasons Hotel Group, as a result of a direct transfer from the group’s property in Geneva, Hotel De Bergues. However, this romance didn’t last long as her search for solutions to some of the challenges in the industry, especially in the area of communication, led her to Urworld Sim in 2017, where she became a partner and director.
She presently drives the marketing and sales strategy, as well as business development of the company in Africa. It was for this purpose that she was in Lagos recently for Akwaaba African Travel Market, taking advantage of the platform to pitch for her company and product.
Inspiration for the travel industry
Excited about travelling, which for her is a passion, Giba describes herself as a ‘nomad outside Africa;’ given her interest in travelling and background. Born and bred in East London, South Africa, but she had also spent time in Durban, Port Elizabeth, Johannesburg, Knysna and Cape Town.
‘‘I like to think of myself as a child of the world! I am pretty much from everywhere although originally from East London. I`ve lived in four different Provinces in South Africa, I lived in Europe, I`ve travelled to Asia, Africa, USA, South America and I have friends and family all around the globe.
‘‘So, I like to think of myself as a nomad outside Africa, I grew up pretty much everywhere,’’ she says. For her, the inspiration for travelling is the experience that one derives, especially when it comes to new discoveries and learning. Elements that she is not ready to trade off for anything else.
‘‘I remembered the first time that I travelled and it was my first international travels and I was very excited. I think I was actually going to Florida, I felt like a new person. That I was about to get re-born and learn new things. And I find out that this is more prevalent to travelling. In all honesty, I am all about consuming new experiences and new people!
‘‘Because the more you get out, the more you get exposed. You are exposed to different people, you are exposed to different cultures and not only are you exposed to new things, you are also exposed to a new you. And you suddenly realise that your world is quite small. ‘‘And when you open up, life just gives you wonders and that is what is interesting for me about travelling. Getting to meet new people, and getting to know what other people are doing.’’
Turning her passion into business
Today, Giba is a partner and director of Urworld Sim, a company that vends sim cards, which is designed to ease communication and save cost for the international travellers across the various strata of the society. Meeting with her business partner, a Swiss national, was coincidental. ‘‘We got speaking about businesses and comparing beautiful spaces such as Switzerland and South Africa and talking about our passion for travelling. We got talking about the difficulties and challenges of travelling, and one of the challenges was cost saving.
That was how it all developed into partnership,’’ she recalls of her journey into the world of Urworld. Urworld is a Swiss SIM card technology that understands the need to navigate this digital age effortlessly.
It understands the needs for mobile users who travel frequently and abroad: Need for instant connectivity, convenience, transparency on the price of data usage and cost savings, effectiveness as well as the necessity for instant connection without having to queue for a local sim card. First of its kind on the African continent, the international Sim card is a one-stop mobile shop in the palm of your hand. With a presence in South Africa, Germany, and Nigeria. Now looking forward to expanding the offering in Kenya in the near future.
Urworld is designed to save cost
Staying connected often comes with a high price. But with Urworld, you save up to 80 per cent on roaming and data. Urworld Sim serves as a cost saving solution to assist global travellers as well as the corporate world particularly when it comes to controlling their mobile communication costs when moving in Africa and the rest of the world. Urworld is the perfect travelling companion for those who are hyper-connected in their personal and working lives and need of cheaper and convenient mobile services.
The Sim works in 180 countries, from the minute you step off the plane, you want to be able to connect to call your uber, whatsapp your loved one, and respond to important business emails, find a hotel or a museum. The Sim card seamlessly integrates with your existing smartphone, without configurations to your social apps. Meaning that all your information remains the same, which is an important need for all travellers. ‘‘These days everyone is doing business outside of their borders and language barrier becomes one of the big blockades.
So, one of the lucrative things about our product is that it provides convenience that you can actually insert the sim card at home before you travel so that by the time you are in a new country, it will automatically connect without the stress of having to converse with anybody, saving you time and money,’’ she says. Adding that: ‘‘It is a transparent and trust worthy service.’’ Besides these advantages, she says ‘‘the greatest asset is that it reduces your running cost, because, you only get charged for the calls you make, there are no added or hidden costs involved.’’
Still on the product, she says, ‘‘you can recharge conveniently online as you don’t have to go to any shop for it. All the information and processes you need to buy your airtime and data are clearly stated and you can also transfer credit to another user using the platform.
‘‘You have one for a group, for family and for travel agencies and tour operators.’’ The Sim card has a six months’ validity after your last use and you have an option to subscribe for 12 months or before your six months elapses you could make just one call with it and your initial six months’ life circle is renewed all over again. Therefore, you can use the sim card over and over again. Distribution points for now are in Switzerland, South Africa and Lagos, Nigeria. The Sim card is international and it is being used in the USA, UK, and Dubai. In the Nigerian market, Urworld Sim cards, according to her, are available at Lufthansa City Centre (LCC) Tifa Travels and Tours, Ikeja; as well as online shops like Jumia and Habarigt.
Making inroads in the market
With the reception that the travel product has received within two years of its launch, Giba is very pleased and excited, as she informs that: ‘‘Everybody loves it, they find it convenient and they find it cheap as well. ‘‘Our customers keep coming back for more! The perception has been phenomenal so far.’’ And for the Nigerian market, she says the sim card is tailored made because Nigerians make more calls and it will save them a lot of costs.
‘‘Nigerians make calls a lot unlike the Europeans who use more data and so that is one of the key learnings. ‘‘It is important to understand how people think of technology as well as their limitations or challenges in engaging with technology and once you take them through the process it becomes easier for them.’’ She also expresses delight over the prospect of the business, saying that appreciable successes have been achieved.
‘‘I am very, very excited compared to where we were last year and where we are today. Unlike other similar products, our strategy really is to focus on Africa. ‘‘The future is to have distribution areas all over Africa. Starting with Lagos and working on Kenya, as we are introducing a lot of sim cards for Kenya and we are also going to be introducing a USA number.’’
I am leveraging on my visits to Nigeria to understand the market
Giba’s recent visit to Nigeria was her third visits in over two years as she was first in the country last year for Akwaaba and later visited to attend the Nigeria Travel Week event and last month, visited to attend Akwaaba. For her, these visits offers her the opportunities to understand more her market. ‘‘I am using the opportunity to understand the market more.’’ Stressing that she is impressed with Nigerians, describing them as very warm and passionate people: ‘‘Nigerians are very welcoming, and very energetic and very passionate about what they do. I think that is one thing that draws me here all the time. I literarily come here to re-energise.’’
By Andrew Iro Okungbowa