• Thursday, May 30, 2024
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Meet Oluchukwu Ezenwaka, diligent and creative school proprietor


Oluchukwu Ezenwaka is an entrepreneur that believes in starting small and growing big. Oluchukwu has tried her hands in many businesses, but believes that hard work, diligence and God’s grace pushed her up.

She is the proprietress of Havilah Academy, currently located in the busy city of Onitsha, Anambra State, south-eastern Nigeria.

Oluchi, for short, started like most entrepreneurs, working for organisations to make both ends met. She started her work life as an executive marketer at Industrial and General Insurance Plc in Onitsha in 2009 after her National Youth Service Corps at Bayawa Day Secondary School, Arugungu, Kebbi State.

In 2010, she set up a crèche in her house in Onitsha. This did not, however, keep her stuck in the school, as she handed it over to competent hands to gain more work experience.

She decided to work for Nigerian Orient News, a magazine in south-eastern Nigeria, where she was the circulation officer. Thereafter, she got a part-time lecturing job at Abia State College of Education Technical Onitsha Study Centre.

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In September 2015, she decided to dedicate her whole time to the school, as she felt her presence could influence the institution positively. She decided to site her Havilah Academy at 22 Nathan Okafor Street, Odume Obosi.

Oluchukwu was inspired to set up the school because of her love for teaching and her understanding that the teacher had an enormous influence on the students.

“l love teaching and giving inspiration to the young ones. So all the while, I never experienced job satisfaction and fulfilment as a staff member. I noticed I am a self-motivated person. There was a vacuum within, which was begging to be filled,” she tells Start-Up Digest.

Oluchi says she decided to set up Havilah due to the obvious gaps she saw in the education sector, which she has vowed to correct.

“On daily basis, I travelled miles to drop my baby in a crèche far from my house. I discovered there were many schools with no provision for kids below three years of age. In 2010, when a friend who knew me well came visiting, she looked around my house and said, ‘Oluchi, you have space enough to start whatever you have in mind’. That was the push and encouragement I needed. I immediately decided to take a step. I created a space and decorated one of our sitting rooms and started a crèche right there. I made fliers, moved from house to house to get kids from below three years. I gave out announcement to churches around my house,” she explains.

She says in paid employment, people work just for the money and only very few go the extra mile to make things happen even when nobody appreciates their efforts.

In her first year, which was in September 2015, she registered 17 kids and employed two more staff members. The next year, the number of kids rose to 25, with an addition of one more staff member. The number later rose to 60 and, by end of 2016, she had registered over 80 pupils, she says.

Today, the number has grown dramatically, which is a testament that business growth comes with diligence, quality, determination and divine favour.

She attributes the rising number of kids to the quality of teachers in the school as well as the institution’s capacity to handle children effectively. Armed with Bachelor of Arts and Master’s degrees in Psychology, Oluchi also holds Post-Graduate Diploma in Education.

She points out that one of the major challenges facing many youths today is lack of patience, which is increasingly killing lofty dreams. She calls for more mentoring of young entrepreneurs to save businesses and dreams from dying.

“Many youths are in a hurry to succeed. That is not a problem as such. But the problem arises when they fail to be patient,” she observes.

She says lack of capital or collateral to source for loans to set up befitting structures is a limiting factor for the school.

According to her, she uses technology in educating the kids, adding that she needs between N5 and N10 million for expansion.

“There is also a challenge with getting dedicated staff. Due to poverty and influx of school everywhere, some parents now move from school to school and, as such, evade payment of their wards’ school fees,” she explains.

Oluchukwu needs money to expand the school to accommodate more kids and plans to invest in real estate in the nearest future, she discloses.

“There are many challenges facing entrepreneurs in Nigeria, but I guess the biggest and most challenging one is capital. No bank gives you a loan without collateral,” she laments.

She advises younger people interested in venturing in education business to be sure they really love education.

“The space is very wide and is waiting for innovative young people who have knowledge of information and communication technology (ICT). Always bear in mind that it cannot be over saturated, rather innovative people will always beat the tide and remain afloat,” she states.