City Safari is based and rooted in Rotterdam, the Netherlands and now operating in eight cities on three continents. Founder Marjolijn Masselink has run the Corporate program since 1998 and established 120,000 personal encounters so far, mainly for companies, institutions and government agencies. Kees de Gruiter, who came up with the concept in 1996 came back on board to steer City Safari out of the crisis and into international expansion in 2012. Marjolijn and Kees traveled extensively and found that cities from Ulan Bator to Manila, Cape Town and Mexico City to Philadelphia basically have the same urban culture as European cities with the same challenges. Direct personal contact between the people in different parts of the cities is a condition for mutual understanding and balanced progress. In 2014 Marjolijn and Kees got married in Timbuktu, Mali.
Three things were needed to build a solid Go! Concept on top of the corporate program: automation of the work flow, attractiveness for the individual visitor and expansion to other cities. Greg Wunz, of Wunz Efficiency from Windber, PA, USA developed the database for the corporate program and made the architecture for the new City Safari Go! Platform for individual bookings. Yvo Zijlstra, from Antenna-Men in Rotterdam created the visual design for the platform. Esther Huls, owner of Imphuls, Marketing and Organization has joined our team to help visitors overcome their diffidence to book a visit.. Paula Hamburg, owner of FinAmi financial consultancy in Rotterdam helped us create a solid financial basis. The funds for the investment in the new strategy were successfully raised through a crowdfund equity campaign hosted by Symbid, Rotterdam, which brought 85 new shareholders to the company City Safari BV in 2016. Paula, Greg, Yvo, Winfred, Kees and Marjolijn now work as a team to make a world wide success of City Safari Go!
Esther den Breejen was one of the staff members of City Safari Corporate and she was our first active agent for the Go! Concept in the city of Utrecht, the Netherlands. Sheryl Kwambai Jemutai heard about the concept from her Dutch friend who once participated in a City Safari and immediately saw the potential for her native Nairobi, Kenya. Also, Yannis Zaras, our agent in Athens, Greece who now runs a company for guided tours, was tipped about City Safari by a friend from Holland. And Miriam Weekers, our agent in Paramaribo, Surinam, was a City Safari host in Rotterdam when she worked with local youth in a social program. Merel Nip is our new agent in Amsterdam . She also runs Kajakadoo with kayak tours and trainings from the Amsterdam canals to the open sea. With the agents, we discuss the properties of a good personal meeting and we exchange good ideas and best practices.
Our shareholders are represented by a board with Christoffel Wielders, a versatile entrepreneur in tourism (zwartezwaanevents.nl) and Luc Driessen, an investment consultant in the hospitality industry in Rotterdam. We are very happy to have Charles Landry as a shareholder. He is author of 'The Creative City' and an international authority on the use of imagination and creativity in urban change. He is a long time fan of the concept of City Safari.