Rose runs a business called Chisomo Nursery and Day Care School. Despite having set up her business and achieved an attendance of around 120 children, Rose was struggling to grow the business and didn’t have a firm grasp on her business metrics. She found out about Grow Movement from the in-country manager, Willie Byson when attending a meeting of the National Association of Business Women (NABW).
Meli has a Masters Degree in Educational Research. She is currently working on academic research projects including teacher training and curriculum design as well as the business side of education so a partnership with Rose was very topical. Grow Movement was recommended to Meli as she was keen to work with emerging markets and bring her skills to a focused problem.
As Rose did not speak fluent English, her and Meli worked alongside a translator. His involvement helped the project to progress as he was familiar with computer use and so could play an integral role in their meetings in more ways than one.
Rose wanted to grow the business from a financial perspective, something which Meli was able to provide advice on but Meli was also keen to ensure the right metrics were being used to measure success. They decided to work on financial models as well as improve the quality of the care provision and creating the right balance for the children as well as the business.
Meli encouraged Rose to bring her team in on the meetings as they were also keen to learn and improve. From the beginning of the project, she would set Rose tasks each week and, despite obvious barriers such as the technology (which at times is unreliable) they found communication between them was good and their shared objectives remained clear.
Sometimes, cultural differences had to be addressed. Rose wanted to explore construction of more buildings. Malawian culture places importance on real estate whereas Meli felt the business was already well-served by its infrastructure and preferred to focus on creating more rewarding educational space such as sandpits. They found that good outputs were just as important as good profits.
Meli and Rose also worked on attendance levels, engaging with parents. As a result of all improvements, nursery attendance has increased to 182 children and Rose has created three new jobs: two teachers and a cleaner. Profitability has increased by an impressive 40%, helped by better record keeping and improved marketing.
“Grow Movement has helped me a lot. I now know what is happening in my business, how to keep records and how to plan with the finance I have. I have also learnt about educational outputs, teaching children to count with sticks and bottle tops and decorating classrooms. Meli was a great person, very open. My business is where it is now because of her.”
“Working with Grow was a wonderful experience. It’s great to give regular support from a distance. Sometimes, due to the language barrier, you aren’t sure whether the message is being diluted but the results speak for themselves. The project reminded me of how far technology has come. In the future, I’d love to see more involvement from educationalists in some of Grow’s projects.”