Stories of Learning and Hope

Celebrating Heritage and Entrepreneurship: Njeri’s Inspiring Journey in Canada 

“To me, the social construct of “Black” is limiting and I want people to visit Africa for this reason. That’s why I created Celebrate Africa. I want to give Canadians the opportunity to experience African life through connecting with the land, culture and food.” 

Today, we will learn about Minnie Njeri Karanja’s (she/her) remarkable journey. 

“Believe in yourself. There are so many structural biases that exist in the Canadian society, and many can make you feel less than, especially if you are Black or a person of colour…but don’t let that put you down.” 

Njeri was born and raised in Kenya but now lives in Vancouver, British Columbia. 

As you will discover, she is a visionary entrepreneur whose story exemplifies determination, cultural pride, and community empowerment.  

Supporting global socio-economic justice to running a successful Tourism business 

Women in Tumbatu Island sorting grain. Tumbatu Island is occupied by Indigenous communities whose cultures are still largely uninfluenced by moden Western cultures.

With over a decade of experience in the non-profit sector before she arrived in Canada, Njeri has supported global socio-economic justice and equity for a long time. 

Her dedication to effecting positive change led her to serve as Director of Government Relations and Public Policy for a non-profit in Canada, where she worked on affordable housing, youth unemployment, and other philanthropic reforms. 

In 2022, Njeri was appointed by the Minister of National Revenue to Canada’s National Advisory Committee on the Charitable Sector, giving her the opportunity to make positive changes across the sector here in Canada. 

However, Njeri’s journey took a new turn when she made the bold decision to pursue her entrepreneurial dreams with the help of our Ignite program.  

Drawing inspiration from her love for travel and her desire to reconnect with her African heritage, Njeri founded Celebrate Africa Tours, a sustainable travel company dedicated to offering meaningful and authentic tours in Africa. 

Through Celebrate Africa Tours mix of sustainability, respect for local communities and empowerment of African women and youth, Njeri hopes to change narratives around Africa and foster meaningful connections between travelers and diverse cultures across the continent. 

Creating Celebrate Africa Tours  

Slave market memorial in Stone Town, Zanzibar. It was the last open slave market in the world to close.

Learning how to start a business in Canada was challenging for Njeri. However, Njeri’s resilience and determination fueled by her passion for bridging cultural divides and promoting understanding encouraged her to move forward: 

“Getting into business was new. I had a wonderful full-time job where I was positively impacting communities…but I wanted to have more time to do things that I loved. 

I absolutely enjoy travelling because of how it expands my perspectives and challenges me about the biases we all hold about ourselves and others… That’s how Celebrate Africa Tours was born.  

Njeri loves the challenges her company presents, especially designing new tours that highlight African culture, history and heritage.  

“Although I was born and raised in Kenya, colonial educational systems denied us the opportunity to learn about collective African heritage and culture. So, I’m fascinated by all the things I learn about fellow Africans while I’m doing research to design the tours.” 

How the Ignite program supported Njeri 

Beautiful Sunset photo taken in a beach resort in Zanzibar.

“Honestly, I would not have come this far in building my business without Ignite. My mentor, Gasim, has decades of experience building and running businesses across the world so I have learned so much from him.” 

Through Gasim and the Ignite team, Njeri received invaluable mentorship and step-by-step guidance on Canadian business regulations, structures and processes.  

As a result, Njeri has successfully designed five distinct tour packages for Celebrate Africa Tours and is looking forward to growing her business throughout 2024.  

Njeri’s experiences of life in British Columbia 

“People are friendly here in BC and I feel like there’s room for diversity in the city. While the Black population is small, the city is a melting point of various cultures.” 

Njeri’s local community has played a key role in supporting her settlement journey. During her first few years in Canada, Njeri felt uncomfortable in how her Black identity was understood. “It took me an estimated 13 hours of travel time to arrive in Canada and in that time, I acquired a new identity – “Black.”” 

Canada’s social and economic system are built on a history of white supremacy and anti-Blackness which can be exhausting to navigate. “I think a part of me craved some invisibility after years of being made to be hyper aware of myself in mostly white spaces.” 

To her credit, Njeri used her discomfort as inspiration for her company. “To me, the social construct of “Black” is limiting and I want people to visit Africa for this reason. That’s why I created Celebrate Africa. I want to give Canadians the opportunity to experience African life through connecting with the land, culture and food.” 

This is why she says Black History Month is so important as it encourages everyone to think about their connections with Black Canadians in their lives and how they can learn more about African history and culture. 

Njeri’s advice for other newcomers 

Njeri admits that being asked for ‘Canadian experience’ can be disheartening but encourages other newcomers to make connections and build a supportive community: 

‘Don’t be shy to ask for help…you’ll be surprised by how willing people are to help you!’ 

And that’s what ISSofBC is here to do! 

We want to support as many newcomers as possible to make them feel welcome in British Columbia, gain skills and ultimately thrive in their communities to build their own lives in Canada. 

If you feel inspired by Njeri’s story, please explore our other Career and Entrepeneur services as well as our other free English language and community settlement services. 

Thank you, Njeri, for sharing your story! 

Thank you for reading and if you want to send us any feedback, please contact  

Skip to content