We've all been there. We have this goal or desire to travel the world more, but high airfare prices end up holding us back. Entrepreneur Ama Marfo formulated the idea for Airfordable as a college student faced with the same frustrating dilemma. She was attending Drexel University in Philadelphia, and despite having a good job, she found herself unable to pay for a flight back to Ghana to visit her family during school breaks.
“I didn't have a ton of savings or an extensive line of credit, so I set out on a journey to figure out how to make travel affordable,” Marfo shares. “I started the company in 2015 to make travel accessible to anyone. The world is more integrated than ever before, yet travel is inaccessible for many people.”
The tech visionary points out that while credit cards are supposed to help people with budgeting and financial access, many consumers wind up trapped forever in a minimum payment cycle. Others are excluded completely due to their credit score or lack of credit history.
“We want to help people fulfill their travel dreams by making travel accessible, affordable and easy to book. Most people in this country live paycheck to paycheck, which makes budgeting for travel a struggle or leads to a major dependence on credit cards," Marfo explains. "Travel brings us together and expands our horizon, and we believe it should be accessible to everyone. Everyone deserves to feel the transformative power of travel.”
With Airfordable, you're able to travel according to your budget, without interest build-up or being denied based on a credit score. You simply book your flights with a small deposit up front to lock in the price, then pay installments over time before flying.
Throughout her creation journey, Marfo faced several obstacles. Before raising money and generating revenue, she wore many hats. From business development and operation to marketing, finance and more, she has had to fill many roles, learning and overcoming issues that arose along the way.
“I even learned basic programming concepts and coding to communicate effectively with my technical cofounder and engineering team," shares Marfo. "Startups are hard! It’s even harder for POC and virtually insurmountable for women of color. There are very few of us in the space. But I appreciate being in the position to help pave the way for more Black women to enter tech or found their own startups.”
Marfo is proud of the positive impact Airfordable has had on the lives of people of all walks of life, and loves hearing stories from its community of travelers that the company has helped explore the world–many for the very first time.
“Our customers are always sharing their stories with us about being able to finally see family for the first time in years, or visiting Africa for the first time to get in touch with their ancestry," she shares. "Even those who have traveled before emphasize that we have made it possible for them to take trips they wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise.”
Margaret Martinez is one of many people Airfordable has helped enjoy unforgettable trips. She discovered the platform after seeing others post about their experiences on social media. This meant being able to take her daughter on a surprise trip to her dream destination, Egypt.
“She loves Egypt so much, and I wanted her to experience her favorite place in real time. So often we have dreams of places we want to visit and that’s exactly where they stay—in our dreams. I didn’t want that for her. I’ll never forget the look on her face when she realized she was in Egypt," says Martinez.
Beginning later this year, customers will be able to use the service to book and pay for hotel stays, further making travel possible for a wider range of people.