With the pandemic putting travel on hold for now, many are enjoying the great outdoors closer to home. In Angola, water sports such as kayaking are proving popular. People are increasingly looking to keep fit and healthy whilst enjoying beautiful scenery.
This is great news for businesses like Rukka, in Luanda, which specialises in building boats. The renewed interest, combined with limitations in global supply chains, is giving domestic production a bit of a boost. Paulo Reis is the CEO of Rukka, he tells us that difficulties linked to the pandemic have "sparked creativity" in him and his workers. They are producing many things and the year, in general, was about a lot of "internal fulfillment" and "team motivation" for them.
Rukka is a small business, employing five people at the moment. It makes kayaks to order. However, it has ambitious plans for growth and to diversify its products. It is looking to build boats for things like artisanal fishing. "Our factory is almost obsolete. It is too small. We are trying to unlock an area of land, of space, to have 15,000 square metres for a proper factory", Paulo Reis adds.
Rukka is currently meeting local needs and it is providing opportunities at a national level to promote sport and tourism with its equipment. The business works with sports federations and clubs to do just that. It’s also part of a project called 'Row Angola' which aims to get more people out on the water across the country.
The renewed passion for the outdoors, sparked by the pandemic, is benefitting other businesses too. VIPR Angola, also in the capital Luanda, makes car accessories like roof racks and bumpers. Its turnover shot up by 15% in 2020. Pedro Jesus, the owner of VIPR Angola thought that 2020 would be a difficult work year for them, but it was actually very positive. He tells us that "people who used to travel elsewhere have stopped doing so and are taking their holidays in our country, to get to know the country. There is a lot to discover, many beaches, many hidden places, which are difficult to reach, and adventure, a lot of adventure".
VIPR has grown from 60 to 85 workers over the past year. As well as making vehicle parts, they also do body repairs and painting, electrical work and mechanics. All the things outdoor adventurers need, to enjoy all that nature has to offer.
Rediscovering the outdoors is smoothing the waters for these two businesses, now sailing towards the future.