Many tales told by the people of Ethiopia give the hyena the face of a dangerous predator. Not well served by its appearance, the animal is known for its unfriendliness and that cunning gaze that will make you shiver. Beneath its bent neck and limp leg lie the stories of a wild animal that is attached to demons and all that is evil. The mention of his name and echoing giggle undoubtedly conjure up images of something perfectly terrifying since it is also depicted as the devil's horse among the residents of Harare.
At the age of 20, Hyena Man not only has managed to tame the unfriendly in the walled city of Harare but has broken the taboo of associating with hyenas. 21 years have gone by since his family settled on making a living feeding these inhospitable wild animals. I shouldn't go putting ideas in your head. This business concept is followed by a grave “Don't try this at home” advice. But you can definitely be one of the many tourists who travel to Harare to visit this spectacular man to witness and be a part of the whole intriguing process. This young man is following in his father's footsteps, who now has moved into the business of farming, feeding by hand pieces of raw meat to a pack of wild animals outside the city of Harare in the pitch black of night. Peculiar you think?
Peter J. Burns III, an American entrepreneur, was not mere peculiarity he saw when he first set eyes on this amazing incident. The thought that was racing through his mind was how to turn this into a more lucrative business with increased number of tourists. Although he decided to sit in the car and witness the hyena feeding from a safe distance during his first visit, inquisitiveness got the best of him and it wasn't long before he was on the ground handing pieces of raw meat to the pack of hyenas there. Driven by a moment's braveness or complete foolishness, tourists like Peter are the hyena man's customers. Hyena Man solely relies on word of mouth to get customers every night. The nights he goes out to feed the hyenas all alone, for lack of visitors, are not few. Peter first had the chance to visit the city of Harare on behalf of his NGO,
International Medical corps, as he was going there to see their operations. While he was there for three or four days, he had a chance to tour the wonderful walled city and take in what had to be the most unusual activity for a tourist he has ever seen in his life. As someone who is one of the founding members of largest international network of entrepreneurs (YEO) and whose entrepreneurship skills are remarkably honed with several years of experience, Peter's initial seeds of thought were geared towards creating an ever more substantial income for the young man. Teaming up with the tour operator who was showing him through the wonders of Harare, Peter came up with a fascinating idea.
The idea centred on creating a tourist package in collaboration with the 14 registered tour guides in Harare and existing tour operators worldwide. Travel agents in Ethiopia and abroad would include a trip to see the hyena man for all tourists who plan to visit the country. This would also allow him to make use of the e-commerce trend, which is a relatively new concept in Ethiopia, book tours on websites and be conscious of the number of tourists he will be accommodating every night. The prepaid package would not only increase the number of tourists that would come to see the hyena man but put Ethiopia on the map as one of the most interesting countries with great wonders worth visiting.
Currently, an estimation of Getachew's revenue sums up to half a million birr a year. With tour guides in his partnership ensemble, Peter envisages to help the hyena man increase his profits fivefold. The rate for local and foreign tourists will go higher than what it is presently, roughly a 100 birr, in order to benefit travel agents which will be partaking in the tourist bringing process. This is a perfect example of using an existing Ethiopian business and turning it into a globally competitive tourist attraction event. Eventually, traditional business concepts will all be in vain and can't keep going for an extended period without embracing current trends and technologies. With the bold and original idea of the hyena man combined with an expatrepreneur's several years of experience, astonishing accomplishments in the tourism sector could soon become a reality.
Peter J. Burns III is an expatrepreneur who specializes in the establishment and operation of niche market replicable business enterprises. He is an innovative businessman who creates and implements many new concepts from the ground up.
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I recently had the life changing experience of volunteering as the de factor "entrepreneur-in-residence" at a well respected international NGO in the country of Ethiopia. I had never formerly volunteered before, had never been to Africa and I had never lived abroad. Like most Americans, I had only traveled to such places like Europe, Central America and elsewhere as a "pampered" tourist, seeing only what our "5 Star Budgets" provided. I even have lots of friends that have traveled to Africa...ergo on $20,000 "safaris" and what not.
The fact is that most Americans, myself at the top of the list, have no idea what it means to live among the members of a foreign culture. We Americans are wonderful at responding to a crises in other parts of the world with our checkbooks and military might, if needed. What we "miss the boat" on is actually understanding and appreciating the many different cultures that comprise the world. I am blessed to have been afforded the opportunity to share in the beautiful culture and people of Ethiopia, first as a volunteer and then as the "ExPatrepreneur" I have fashioned myself to become (www.peterjburns3.com)
My mantra has always been "Doing well by doing good, " and the opportunity I have to do just that is so obvious in my work in Ethiopia. With a population of 92 million and only 15% or so living above the poverty levels, there is so much that this country needs and that we as Americans and entrepreneurs with a social conscious can provide. To that end, I am endeavoring to bring high quality portable MRI machines to their capital city of Addis Ababa with a population of 5 million...and only 4 poor quality MRIs in the entire country.
Other projects "in play" include a unique livestock feedstock made from insects, which is not only far healthier to the animals being raised but also less expensive then the current meat by products. Another project involves the financing and roll out of kidney dialysis clinics that are in such short supply and so needed.
In short...we American entrepreneurs should consider rolling up our sleeves and volunteering somewhere in the world that needs our unique skill sets to observe and then act upon opportunities that not only help the indigenous populations but also make a profit. Another mantra I live by is..."You can't give unless you make."