Always focus on the end prize

Euginia Mokone | Addnum

My lifelong passion for teaching has always been inspired by my love of imparting knowledge, by my deep interest in human development, and by my keen enjoyment in watching the progress made by my students. Earlier in my career, I worked as an economics lecturer at CIDA City Campus, and then as both a lecturer and programme director of the University of Johannesburg’s Centre for Small Business Development. Lecturing fulfilled my love of teaching and of learning. I felt that I really had it made.

And that’s when my life unexpectedly changed. I fell pregnant – with twins! I felt so blessed and happy, and then realisation began to set in. I started worrying about their future and who would take care of them emotionally, physically and lovingly. How would I be able to manage it if I had to carry on working?

After many sleepless nights, it dawned on me – I needed an early childhood development centre. The hunt began but, the more I saw, the less enthusiastic I became. Those I saw simply didn’t meet my expectations and I couldn’t see myself enrolling my children in any. Then it came to me: I would start my own early childhood development centre.

The problem I faced was location. Seven months after giving birth to my pigeon pair, I sacrificed my luxury home and moved into a backyard shack. It was the only way I could put my dream into operation and build the centre of my dreams. I wanted a massive space to create a stimulating environment where children could be motivated and become eager to learn. I wanted to have control over what my children were learning, what they were eating and how they were playing.

In less than two years, we already had around 80 learners. By the third year, we had grown to over 120 learners and space had become a challenge. We acquired a second property and, as the numbers have continued to grow, we have now bought a third property. We are expanding from a pre-school to a primary school and will present evening classes to parents who want to expand their knowledge and grow their own businesses.

I am so grateful to Raizcorp for believing in my dreams and empowering me with the necessary skills to excel and grow my business even further. The programme has forced me to dig deeper into my own values and link these back into my business practice. Today, I own three centres with 27 employees, and I achieved this without a partner or financial backing from friends, family or companies. It is my dream to continue growing the business and start a franchise for education and training.

I’d like to share my story to inspire those who wish to start their own schools or other businesses. My advice is never be too proud to take your car back to the dealer and use public transport. Never be too proud to move out of your comfortable house and stay in a shack. Always focus on the end prize. I encourage every black child to never stop dreaming and know that hard work and sacrifice always pay off in the long run.