Business

Meet Ama Marfo, the co-founder of an online platform that allows customers to pay for expensive flights in instalments

 

MAKING TRAVEL AIRFORDABLE: Ama Marfo

MAKING TRAVEL AIRFORDABLE: Ama Marfo

MEET AMA Marfo, the CEO and co-founder of Airfordable, an online platform that allows users to reserve flights by making deposits and spreading out the payments up to 11 months.

It’s an option for those on low budgets or credit, as well as those wanting to lock in a fare, says Airfordable co-founder Ama Marfo.

Chicago-based Ama, originally from Ghana, launched Airfordable after finding herself unable to afford the $1500 flights home during school breaks at Drexel University in Philadelphia.

“I had a job, but no credit history, which made it difficult to get a credit card with a credit line of more than $300,” she told Essence. “Because of this I stayed in the dorms every single break, alone, and missed my family.”

She notes that two thirds of millennials do not own a credit card, while over 100 million worldwide are living pay check to pay check.

“Last year alone, 33 per cent of Americans couldn’t afford to buy a plane ticket all up front. I figured if you can pay for high priced items like electronics and furniture on layaway, why can’t you do that for expensive flights?”

Airfordable allows customers to book flights for just a fraction of the cost upfront and the rest in recurring payments before their departure date.

About 10,000 customers have used the service to book tickets so far, which requires users to find their desired flights, screenshot the information and upload it to Airfordable’s website. Users then make a non-refundable deposit, followed by bi-weekly payments.

“With over three million miles of flights booked on airfordable since launching in January 2016, we’re confident we’re onto something here,” Ama says. “We’re on a global mission to democratise air travel for everyone.”

On one of the obstacles she’s faced since launching her start-up, the 28-year-old says “keeping Airfordable alive when I had no money to hire a team”.

“It was hard convincing anyone to quit their job to come and work for me. I could have easily thrown in the towel at that point, but the conviction I had about Airfordable and the problem we’re solving was so strong, I couldn’t just give up.”

She adds: “So I did everything from marketing, business development, operations and product management. I learned how to code to the point of understanding basic programming concepts. That way, when I brought on a technical co-founder and developer I would be able to communicate with them effectively.”

Ama met co-founder Craig Henry when he contacted her while researching a similar idea and they decided to join forces.

Third co-founder Emmanuel Buah, the company’s chief technical officer, came on board within months.

Her advice to fellow entrepreneurs is to never stop learning.

“Never pass up the opportunity to learn a new skill. Technology is ever-changing, so knowing the latest sets you apart from others.”

 

 

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