“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. Nelson Mandela.
This is Lillian Atieno’s favorite quote. A quote that has seen her dream come true after setting up her kindergarten school. Lillian, a single mother aged 30 years and a mother of one is a member of Rauka Kabimoi group, a young mother’s group comprising of fifteen members. She lives in Kabimoi, Eldama Ravine. The group has undergone all the HIHEA Training modules and has accessed the Enterprise Incubation Fund (EIF) and Lillian is one of the beneficiaries. Lillian studied an Early Childhood Development (ECD) course while in college and was employed in the nearby Kabimoi nursery school after working for six years at ACK Emanuel Primary School as a teacher. She was paid a monthly salary of Ksh 3,500.
”My desire has always been to work for the education of children. I recall memories of my nursery school teacher who taught me the first letters A, B, C and D,” she says.
In 2010, with no startup capital, she started a kindergarten school at a nearby church’s premises and registered six children. Each parent contributed Ksh 100 every week towards the education of his or her child. She continued to operate her kindergarten until one year later when she decided to relocate it to an old house given by one of the parents. However, she faced stiff competition from other established kindergartens. Living in a patriarchal society where women are not supposed to engage themselves in such ventures was a hindrance too. Also due to the fact that she was not born and bred in that village, she experienced animosity from some neighbours who saw her venture as an ambitious one. Some parents withdrew their children from the kindergarten. “I could see my dream going down the drain and I felt so dejected. I decided to close down,” she remembers.
Being the aggressive lady she is, Lillian‘s entry into Hand in Hand Eastern Africa in 2013, was a blessing in disguise. Equipped with the skills on savings and enterprise development, her desire to restart the Kindergarten, this time bigger and better, was ignited. Her personal savings had accumulated to Ksh 10,000 and she borrowed another Ksh 10,000 from her aunt as a top-up. She rented an acre of land and started building the school. The school was complete by January 2014 and ten pupils had been enrolled. The school now has pupils up to class two and a playground. “I applied for Ksh 10,000 from HiHEA’s Enterprise Incubation Fund (EIF) and used it to construct a pit latrine for the pupils. I am still repaying this loan,” she says. Her exemplary teaching skills have won the hearts of the pupils and their parents and now the school has 74 pupils. Lillian earns a basic salary of Ksh 6,000 from her kindergarten and makes a profit of Ksh 15,000 every month. She has created five jobs: four teachers and a cook. The teachers are paid a salary of between Ksh 5,000 to Ksh 6,000 per month.
“I am happy the HIH EA training opened my eyes and taught me that I can be my own boss. I am more proud that I am contributing to the education of our future leaders,” says Lillian. She plans to borrow Ksh 15,000 to improve the quality of her classrooms. “I am a very grateful to HIH EA for making me believe in myself and take the first step in owning a business. The training on entrepreneurship has helped me learn good customer care skills which have been very helpful. The training was an eye and mind opener.”