Gichuki had been a secondary school teacher for close to 40 years, while his wife was a primary school teacher. When Gichuki retired, his plan was to start a private primary school on a land he had bought. He needed to construct classrooms to get started with his post-retirement business. He also wanted to supervise the construction work to minimize costs.
Source of Capital for Gichuki's School Business
Gichuki spent Ksh 2,000,000 in the construction work. He used Ksh 1,000,000 from his savings and the extra one million was a bank loan. It took two years to complete the classrooms' construction and he was ready to start admitting pupils. However, after completing the construction work, he needed his wife. For this reason, his wife decided to take early retirement to support her husband in his business.
Challenges they Have Faced to Start the School
Gichuki depleted his reserves with the construction of the classrooms. He needed more money to employ teachers and buy desks. He couldn't borrow more money from the bank. His final resort was his wife. His wife gave him Ksh 500,000 to purchase furniture and employ teachers.
The most challenging task they would face was getting pupils to enroll in their private school. They decided to give the first 20 pupils an offer to get pay half school fees for the first term. This helped them get some pupils for a start. However, they knew the school would have an increase in population with time.
During the first year, the school had less than 50 pupils. This was a small number considering he had overheads to pay, a loan to service, pay teachers and workers. Since he didn't have any reserves, he relied on his wife's savings. They would do a lot of marketing through roadshows to attract more pupils to the school.
The other challenge they were facing was that the neighboring schools had school buses to pick pupils from their homes. His school didn't have a school bus and he couldn't admit pupils whose homes were far. He had to find a lasting solution until he was in a position to buy a school bus. He hired a bus that would pick children from their homes and take them back. He included the bus fares in school fees, to minimize his expenses. His business gained traction and he was able to admit more pupils.
Overcoming Challenges to Start a School
Their school managed to admit more pupils and they have been repaying their loan. Gichuki says were it not for his wife, he would not have managed to start the school. His wife is currently the school's headteacher while he is the director.
The next project they are working on is buying a school bus to minimize operational costs. It will also reduce school fees and attract more pupils to their school.
Gichuki says his experience and that of his wife have helped him start and manage the school. He attributes the business's success to his wife's sacrifices and hard work. He advises anyone wishing to start a business first to find out the risk and figure out how to address them before launching the business.
Read also: Why cereals business is a good business.
Is School Business Profitable?
The profitability of a school depends on its location and number of pupils. If a school is in a high-income area, it can fetch higher profits. However, if the school is located in low-income areas, many parents cannot afford to enroll their children. Those that can manage will struggle to pay school fees. Therefore, when starting school, it is important to consider the location and the number of children in a particular area.