Transforming Adventure Travel

5 Jun 2018

“It’s easy to make a positive impact on someone’s life and often it is the small things that matter,” says UQ Bachelor of Commerce alumnus, Nate Taiaroa.

Former accountant, Nate Taiaroa is the founder of Adventure Out Loud, an Australian-based business that is making a difference in Africa through adventure travel. While Nate loves trekking Kilimanjaro or going on safari with travel groups, he is most proud that Adventure Out Loud has sponsored over 100 disadvantaged children through school. Yet, things could have turned out very differently for the young entrepreneur whose ambition was once to become the CEO of a large corporation.

Growing up on a farm in South-East Queensland, Nate learned to be independent, work hard and solve problems from an early age. By the age of seven, he could drive a tractor and at nine, he was collecting macadamia nuts and selling them at the Sunday market. By 17, he had his own fruit stall which paid for his first car.

As a young adult, Nate set his sights on the corporate world. Although he had never heard of audit, when a friend mentioned the EY intern program, he figured it would be a good opportunity. He learned a lot in this role but his career was soon interrupted.

“At the end of the year, mum was losing her battle with cancer so I moved back to the farm to help dad care for her,” Nate explains. “EY were incredibly supportive. When mum passed a few months later, they allowed me to go back to university, promising that there would be a job waiting when I finished. I was very grateful – I worked hard and by 24, was one of their youngest managers.”

More tragedy was to come when, in 2012, Nate’s step-brother had an accident and died at the age of 12. “It made me realise that life was too short to keep doing something I wasn’t passionate about. So I moved to Tanzania and spent 16 months working at a charity school. It was a transformational time – it allowed me to grow as a person, figure out what I wanted and have fun.”

“I spent a year travelling Africa, the Middle East and Europe. I realised I was passionate about keeping disadvantaged children in school and with more than 111 million children out of education, Africa seemed a good place to focus. I’d led tours in East Africa before, and by taking people on an immersive adventure, I hoped to inspire them to sponsor disadvantaged students through school.”

He started Adventure Out Loud in 2015 with a trusted mentor, Steve Brunskill. Children such as Jacob, their first sponsor student, have been a real inspiration. Nate said, “having lost his parents at a young age, Jacob managed to look after his two younger siblings and finish primary school. He slept rough on the streets of Nairobi and secured a place at a charity school by promising the principal he would be the best student.”

“Four years later he graduated at the top of his class and today, we sponsor him to study economics at university. Despite struggling to find enough to eat, he also managed to keep his siblings in secondary school.”

In addition to running Adventure Out Loud, Nate is a director at a charity in Kenya, and facilitates leadership, employee engagement and team-building programs. He says his Bachelor of Commerce degree from UQ has made him passionate about the benefits of a good education.

While he accepts that not everyone can quit their job and move to Africa, he urges others to find things they are passionate about - and of course to help others. “It is so easy to make a positive impact,” he adds. “For $15 a week, you can keep an African child in school and give them the opportunity to move out of poverty. Whatever you do, remember you can make a difference.”