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Nine Lions Inc. began in 2004.  Since then it has grown and evolved, including a recent big change: effective November 4, 2015, Nine Lions Development Consulting, our fundraising consultancy, joined two other firms to become ViTrēo.

Back in 2004 we had no idea how it would all turn out, but what we did know was that we wanted a business name that was meaningful to us. Here’s our Nine Lions story:

It was a combination of both sadness and relief with which we began the last day of our safari in Tanzania.  In our experience, being on safari involves a great deal of patience.  There are hours and hours spent driving over rough roads, in hot temperatures, as one scans the landscape in hope of spotting wildlife.  After a week, seeing scores of zebra and wildebeest was almost second nature to us, but getting glimpses of any “cat” was still rare and very exciting.

We were thrilled then to happen upon a clump of trees and see two lions lazing about in one of the trees.  We watched in awe as these two lions jumped out of their tree and headed to the next one.  Following the lions, we were stunned to see that this next tree already had a number of lions lying amongst its branches.  In fact, there were seven lions in that tree – we counted quite carefully since the scene in front of us was a dangling jumble of legs and tails.

In silence, we watched as the first two lions joined the others, carefully stepping over their resting friends to find their own spots on the shady branches.  We couldn’t believe it: there were nine lions – all in one tree at one time – just yards from our safari vehicles.

We can’t remember exactly how long we remained there, just looking at those lions.  And we can’t easily describe the impact of that moment.  We were awestruck, incredulous, grateful.  It was a powerful experience.

When we started our business, we wanted a name that really meant something to us.  That is the story of nine lions.

P.S.  After launching our business, Nine Lions Inc., we learned of other meanings for nine lions.  One of our favourites is the Chinese Nine-Lion Dance: “It is a folk art with a history of over 300 years and is traditionally performed at winter festivals in China.  During these festivals farmers would pray for good weather and a bumper harvest in the coming year. They also used the opportunity to take time off from their hard work and enjoy themselves. In Chinese cultural tradition, the lion is a symbol of strength and determination and nine is considered a lucky number.”
(Source:, April 2004)