A vision for domestic care [Nation (Kenya)]
(Nation (Kenya) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) I was an auditor for seven years. My professional background is purely in finance: I am an undergrad in business and management, a certified accountant and a post-graduate in strategic management.
"My professional qualifications meant audit would be a fantastic career for me. Unfortunately, it wasn't. Audit didn't match my personality. I love working with people, I love talking to people and training them. I don't like the monotony of a routine. So I was constantly dissatisfied with my career.
"In January 2011, my husband and I started a restaurant business together; he was aware of my dissatisfaction with my career and he supported my decision to leave my job to focus on running the business. But I knew that this business was merely a stepping stone to greater things. Plus, it gave me the confidence to make the crucial first step towards doing what I wanted to do.
"I ran the restaurant for one year, until December 2011. It didn't work out as we had anticipated. We closed shop in January 2012, and I shifted my focus to the idea I had had for training domestic workers.
This idea first found me in 2006, while living with my sister. The help she hired to handle her house chores didn't meet her expectations. I experienced this later, when I had my two children in 2010. The seven house helps I had made me wonder what was wrong – was it them, or was it me? But I was not alone in this – any woman with children will tell you firsthand the numerous experiences she has had with her house helps.
"So, my idea for training domestic workers was this: To bridge the gap between what women expect of their house helps and to give house helps the knowledge to meet their employer's expectations.
"While my idea stewed, for one and a half years, I prepared the training manuals and curriculum for the coursework. A close friend also sponsored me for a 12-week purpose and leadership programme designed for marketplace leaders, in January 2013. The programme gave me the nod to start my organisation, Naava Service Solutions. I opened its doors in April 2013.
"Naava, which means 'beautiful' in the Hebrew language, is about two things: First, it is to help the girls find their identity and realise their personal ambitions. For a majority of these girls, being a house help is not their job of choice – and they approach their work so.
My training seeks to change this attitude and teach them how to work with honesty and dignity, and how to plan their lives. The responsibilities in the home are enormous, no doubt, and working women, especially those with children, know how indispensable house helps are to them.
Knowing this, I train the girls to work in the homes with the right mindset, and as a means to achieving their personal goals.
"Second, it is to teach the girls how to do the household tasks. I have home visits for these.
Moving from room to room, I teach the girls about food preparation, food and personal hygiene, housekeeping, child care, first aid, etiquette and mannerisms, and so on. There are other focused courses that teach one skill, say cooking. The Naava program builds these girls up holistically.
"My first class that April had eight girls. I trained them in my living room, on Sundays, and used my savings to finance the course. I didn't charge them for the class. Now, I run the classroom sessions once a week for eight weeks; the two-hour sessions end at noon. I have moved locations from my home, to Lang'ata, to Ngong' Road and now Kiambu Road. The practical home-based sessions vary, depending on what I want to teach the girls. Each girl gets a certificate of participation at the end of the course. It's a reward for their dedication and hard work; it's an excellent booster for their morale.
ONE YEAR ON
"In the one year of Naava, I have trained 30 house helps. I have success stories of girls who have gone on start their businesses, others have returned to help me with the training. The feedback I receive from women whose girls I have trained is positive.
"The major challenge I have faced has been in dealing with the girls themselves. These are women from diverse backgrounds and upbringing; handling this diversity calls for patience. Also, some women who employ the girls whom I have trained don't make the effort to reinforce my training. "To manage the finances, I have kept my running costs of the business to a minimum.
On a personal level, I have grown as a person in the past year – training others has made me grow into a bolder and more cheerful person. My plan for Naava is to train girls for placement in homes across the country."
HOW SHE DID IT:
• Have a mentor and a support group – these two are crucial in keeping you focused on your goal
• Start your business with the money you have ready. Your vision and goals will see you through the uncertainty of tomorrow
• In the early stages of the business, keep your costs to a minimum so you free up your cash to handle other expenses
• Know what you have been called to do. Your purpose is always unfolding; it's your obedience to this calling that determines how fast it will unfold
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