Enterprising Youth Uses Innovative Ways to Train Teachers
Coming up with innovative ideas in business has proved to be the secret of successful start-up entrepreneurs. This is also true for 28 year old Florence Akumu, who from her teenage years, knew she wanted to be in business. Her career path would however take a different turn when she was admitted to pursue a degree course in Early Childhood Development (ECD). At the time she saw it as a complete detour from her ambition, but she took it in stride as she wanted to get a university education. After graduating, she was employed as a trainer of ECD teachers at a small institution in Eldoret, Rift valley province, and this was the turning point in her life as she saw a business opportunity in early childhood development in her home town in Western Kenya.
“I just thought that I could replicate the same concept of my employer and open up a school for ECD teachers in my rural home” said Florence. But that was the easy part. The difficult part was that she did not have any money or location to set up an institution. Not being one to lose hope, Florence took it up as challenge and began thinking of innovative ways of starting the school. She approached the headmaster of a local secondary school with a proposal to allow her to start her college when the school is on vacation. It was not easy to convince the head teacher who had to consult the school board of directors to decide on this new concept. One board member was however instrumental in influencing the others to give Florence a chance. “I think he saw my determination, and a way for the school to make money. In any case the school would have been empty if they had not given me that opportunity” said Florence, as she looked back at her long journey to starting Allbright ECD Teacher Training College.
- Florence rents the premises of a school when it breaks for recess to enable her train the ECD students
- 5 of her former students have become staff at the institution
- Several other students have opened nursery and day care centers after completing their training from the institution.
With the first hurdle sorted, she needed to recruit teachers and get students admissions. She however wanted to horne her skills in Business management and managing financial accounts. It was here that she was introduced to UNDP Business skills and entrepreneurship development under the Kenya National Youth Development & Training Programme (KNYD&T). Here she gained confidence in scaling up her business, marketing and accounting. “The training came at an opportune time when I was just starting the school, and it enabled me improve my financial records and book keeping” She said. The program is designed to help youths to take advantage of economic and social opportunities, and converting them into viable enterprises and initiate the process of enterprise start-up by acquiring necessary expertise to manage them professionally.
Armed with these skills, she was able to secure a bank loan, hire five teachers and produce fliers that she would distribute at popular public areas in a bid to advertise and attract students to the school. She received positive feedback and started out with 8 students, and 3 years later, it is a fully fledged college with 12 staff members and over 100 students who sit for National early childhood development exams, competing effectively with other students in the country and majority pass with distinction. Some of her students have gone ahead to open up day care and kindergarten centers that has greatly improved the children’s long term development and learning in the community. “Florence is my mentor. I saw her determination and passion to succeed and I followed in her footsteps and was able to open a nursery school near my home. It now has over 72 children” Said Jackline Kire, a former student who has now started her own school in the same village. Several others were incorporated into the job market, with Florence recruiting 5 of her former students to become teachers in the institution.
Part of the UNDP Training was also encouraging them to spot opportunities in their communities. It is with this that she opened Agency Banking Services where she transacts as a bank agent enabling residents in the area get banking services at the village level. She also operates an Mpesa shop, which is a mobile money transfer service that enables residents to deposit or withdraw money using their phones. This enterprise has enabled the area to develop economically, as more residents now have easier access to their funds, giving them a better purchasing power. This is able to supplement her income especially at the time when the school is closed. She has also been incorporated as an Enterprise Development Agent by UNDP which enables her to provide business development services including mentoring and training others to gain business development skills.
Florence believes that she will soon have the Allbright ECD Teacher Training College in its own premises where it can function throughout the year and accommodate even more students. She is however optimistic that with her innovative skills, this will come into fruition and will enable her diversify her market. She also encourages young people to seek innovative ways of doing business so as to have that upper edge that will transform them from being job seekers to job creators.