Amy Millican is owner of Flyga Twiga LLC, a personal safari service and consultancy. Married for 26 years to Cmdr. Jeff Millican, USNR, Millican is a results-oriented business owner, writer/researcher, project manager, and nonprofit leader with wide-ranging experience in business and project development in sub-Saharan and Southern Africa.
Millican has extensive wildlife conservation and international development experience, having worked with the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS-the international branch of the New York Zoological Society/Bronx Zoo) on sustainable tourism in South Sudan. As an author and researcher, Millican has a varied library of published research and writing in the fields of sustainable tourism and travel.
In 2015, her contributions to exploration and conservation were honored by her nomination and acceptance as a member into the renowned The Explorers Club. Currently with her husband who is serving in South Korea, Millican sits on the Foreign Advisory Committee for the Korean Heritage Society.
Q. What’s your military story?
My husband and I met on a summer study program at the University of Oxford, England. Married in 1992, I have been part of the U.S. Navy Reserve community for nearly 26 years. As part of the reserves, my husband has been on active duty on numerous occasions. Personally, I have come to love when he is assigned to a joint command. It is wonderful getting to know people from all the uniformed services.
Q. Tell us about your business.
Established in 2014, Flyga Twiga LLC is the culmination of all my years of international development, human rights, and wildlife conservation work. With established local, in-country partners, I am able to help clients create the personal, bespoke safaris of their dreams. My business has seen clients from all over the world, with clients hailing from such places as the U.S., Peru, and Haiti.
Courtesy of Flyga Twiga LLC
Serving as an expert on regional travel and tourism, with emphasis on security issues, in Sub-Saharan and Southern Africa, my business has flourished in Africa. And, my research and writing on sustainable tourism, in addition to my travel articles, columns, and blog, has helped educate tourists on vital issues facing the travel industry and wildlife conservation.
Flyga: Swedish — “Flying"
Twiga: Swahili — “Giraffe”
Q. When were you first “bitten” by the entrepreneurial bug?
When I returned from working with the Wildlife Conservation Society in South Sudan in 2013, I knew I was ready for the next challenge of my personal career. My passion for human rights and wildlife conservation coalesce in travel to Africa. The tourism industry enriches the lives of the travelers, creates sustainable livelihoods for the local populations, and thus can help create an environment for thriving wildlife conservation.
Q. What inspired you to take the plunge and start your own business?
I was raised by my maternal grandparents. After World War II, my grandfather, an Army Ordnance Corps veteran, was the youngest General Motors car dealer in the U.S. I was raised by the ultimate American entrepreneur. As such, I wanted to use my business as a model and be a partner for entrepreneurs in sub-Saharan and Southern Africa.
Q. How has the military community and experience influenced your entrepreneurial journey?
The “you can do anything” spirit of the military spouse is definitely needed on the entrepreneurial journey. Deployments require long-term planning for many contingencies. And, [military spouses have the] ability to pivot when things just don’t go as planned. Those are precisely the skill sets needed for an entrepreneur.
Q. What’s been the hardest part of starting your own business?
Aside from the broader picture of managing my own business, on a daily basis, I miss being around people. A lot of my work, especially my research and writing, is done in my home office. As such, I make a focused, concerted effort to go to networking events and maintain a strong, supportive community of like-minded business owners.
Q. What resources and programs have you found helpful in blazing your own trail?
The Small Business Administration was key to my business plan development. In South Korea, the Armed Forces Spouses Club has generously welcomed my participation in promoting my business. The military spouse world has evolved into one that encourages spouses to blaze your own trail.
Courtesy of Flyga Twiga LLC
Q. Why do you think entrepreneurship is a good career opportunity for military spouses?
Given the age of the “digital nomad,” being an entrepreneur means you can control your own destiny. The ability to shift or pivot as needed, especially if an unexpected deployment occurs, is the perfect fit for military spouses.
Q. How has starting your business inspired growth in your professional life?
Starting my own business was the natural progression for the next step in my professional life. It also required me to grow skill sets, which, while existing, I had not focused on. For instance, my writing and research skills developed into a strong part of my business, whereas before they were a side component but not a key component.
Q. What’s currently on your radar? Tell us about your latest entrepreneurial project.
In April, I attended the World Travel Market Africa in Cape Town, South Africa. I was honored to be asked as an international fully hosted buyer last year. This year, I also focused on more media work. I have also been working more closely with Korean tourism shows, covering the events as part of their media relations.
Q. What advice would you give to other military spouses who want to start a business?
Don’t overthink it and jump in. While I believe developing a business plan is important, there are a lot of naysayers to whom you must not listen. Be prepared to be flexible within your business. But never let doubt keep you from setting your plan into motion.
Q. How can our readers connect with you?