How Mbano was Developed

Doc Mati shares highlights of the Mbano development journey from 2016 to 2020.

Mbano Manor Hotel reception entrance
Mbano Manor Hotel secure entrance
Natural teak forest setting

Why Mbano? “Why Not? It had always been my vision to own a tourism product one day, at Victoria Falls.”

The Land. In 2016, it was a virgin forest location, with trails made by animal treks, and a single dusty road to Kazungula. It was the perfect site.

Raising capital. A long, stressful  and difficult fund-raising journey. A big thank you to the local Pension Funds who invested in our greenfield project.

Conservation. Only two trees were taken down during construction. A topographical survey  mapped out over 80 major trees on the four-acre estate. The buildings were then fitted around the trees.

Team of Experts. Hoteliers first designed Mbano Manor hotel, then we took the concept to an architect. A great team of professionals met regularly during 2018 and 2019 – architects, contractors, hotel technical, interior design, engineers. Attention to detail defined and defines Mbano.

Hands-On. I was hands-on throughout the construction. Mother Bear. From checking timely delivery of bricks and materials, getting Council approvals, working with builders, electricians, plumbers, carpenters and landscaper, procurement of furniture and equipment, and more.. Taking a short nap on hot afternoons was life-saving.

Motivating workers. “It was important to ensure that workers on site received one decent meal daily, regardless of the subcontractor or supplier they worked for. I would bring in additional staple maize meal, meat and vegetable supplies, to motivate the workers!

Animal sightings. The security team kept a log of animals’ sightings. Four of Big Five (elephant, lion, buffalo, leopard) were sighted during evenings alongside Mbano. Elephants and buffalo are still regular visitors.

Secret Weapon. Doc’s trusted daughter, Muchero, managed the office, paid all suppliers, and brought calm and sanity. Coping in a high-inflation environment. She is still part of the Mbano team today.

Beyond Us. This project is a legacy for our grandchildren. My family believed in my vision. Our daughter was the business manager. The first line lawyer was our son. Another son and daughter were editors, researchers, runners. My best friend and personal funder was my husband.“