Start-up Entrepreneur of the Year
“My business has made a huge difference in the slum – it has provided an opportunity to access affordable education and a chance for single parents to go to work without worrying how they will leave their children.”
Susan Ogwengo often wondered what women were supposed to do with their children when they went to work. So, she decided to do something about it, setting up a day care centre for babies from two months up to children of seven years old.
Since starting her business in December 2013 in the Kibera slum in Nairobi, she has taken on eight full time employees and two part time staff, and expects to make a profit in her first year of operation.
Susan grew up in a family of 26 children, and her father could not pay for school fees. “In the evening we would come from school, go to the fields to pick vegetables and go to the market to sell, making it even harder to focus on education,” she says.
“For seven years, I had always wanted to provide cheaper education to disadvantaged children in my community,” she says. “I shared my desire with friends and relatives and one friend who had a school told me it was possible to start my own business. I dared believe her.”
It was the Kenya Youth Business Trust, a member of Youth Business International, which provided her with the training and funding (a US$700 loan) to support her business dream. “We were trained on how to research before starting a business, how to manage our businesses through proper financial management, marketing and how to advertise our businesses,” she says.
Perhaps because of Susan’s own educational struggles, she has chosen to provide local children with the best care possible. She describes the services that her day care provides: “Children are provided with food – porridge during morning break, beans and rice for lunch, or sometimes cabbage or mung beans and rice. They are also prvided with learning and teaching materials like books, charts, drums during music periods. There is school equipment such as blackboards, desks, tables, mattresses and blankets for baby care.”
Parents pay $3.5 dollars a month for a child to attend the school, well below the rate charged by government owned schools. The day care looks after around 120 children, and although the business is in its early stages it is clear that there is demand for her services in Kibera.
Susan’s achievements will be celebrated in March 2015 at the final of YBI’s Young Entrepreneur Awards, supported by Barclays. This year, the Awards will be held in the United Arab Emirates as part of an Entrepreneur Roadshow.