Many of us have heard the saying, ‘From humble beginnings come great things.’ This is most certainly the case for Henri Otou and his business Oembutu Travel – a concierge, transfer and tour service in the heart of Johannesburg.
For as long as he could remember, Henri has always been passionate about driving people to places. In 2002 during the World Summit in Johannesburg he was given the opportunity by the French Embassy to drive French VIPs around Gauteng and the North West. Six years later, what started as a hobby turned into a business and Oembotu travel aka ‘The Johannesburg Squirrel’ was born.
He secured his first major contract with a hotel in the mining district of the Johannesburg CBD. At that stage he had no car and his fleet was made up of rented vehicles. Today, Oembotu Travel has been involved in several concierge and travel desk projects within Johannesburg precincts and hotels.
The journey has not been an easy one. The toughest of challenges being the acquisition of a fleet and access to the market. But what keeps Henri going is his passion for service delivery and people. They now offer a range of services from foreign language guided tours, airport transfers, nightlife and sightseeing chauffeur and shuttle services. His drivers are all fully trained in first aid, advanced driving and security skills and all vehicles offer free and uncapped wifi.
In the near future Henri is planning to run the tuk-tuk tour in the Johannesburg CBD where ‘The Johannesburg Squirrel’ will be the transport link for tourists between Rea Vaya, Gautrain, the Red Bus and all places of interest within the CBD.
He believes that it takes passion and perseverance to succeed as an entrepreneur. This attitude and drive certainly paid off when he received the 2015 Travel and Tourism Award at the South African Small Business Awards hosted by the National Small Business Chamber (NSBC).
Henri is not only an ambassador to our foreign guests but also an example of the power a small businesses has to grow, empower and create jobs in the local community. To him, ‘Small businesses are the backbone of the economy as their growth directly contributes to the well-being of families.’
Small Business Friday is brought to you by the National Small Business Chamber (NSBC) and Nedbank (Title Sponsor) and encourages all South Africans to interact and support small business everyday; especially every Friday and even more so on Small Business Friday, the first Friday of Spring every year. This grows local communities, drives job creation and ultimately builds the nation. With your support small business will be able to employ more, therefore reducing rates of unemployment and harvesting the entrepreneurial spirit.