How this Kenyan woman left banking and now profiting big time from her private school business

Dollita Okine September 05, 2023
Proprietress of St. Bakhita schools, Felista Muthoki Mutinda left her secure job as a services executive in the banking industry to pursue her passion for education. Photo Credit: LinkedIn, Felista Muthoki Mutinda

The proprietress of St. Bakhita School, Felista Muthoki Mutinda, left her secure job as a services executive in the banking industry to pursue her passion for education.

The 52-year-old told Nation Africa “I desired structures that focused on an all-rounded growth of the child, organized workshops for parents, and valued life skills just as it did with grades. I didn’t see regular schools doing what I thought should be done. There was a huge disconnect between the schools and parents.”

Mutinda expressed that many people around her had reservations about her decision to leave behind a 14-year-old career in banking to transition into entrepreneurship. Despite lacking experience in the field, she attended workshops and researched extensively to make her vision a reality.

To begin her business, Mutinda used her personal savings, received financial support from her parents and husband, and even dipped into her pension fund. She began with one kindergarten in a renovated house in South B, a suburb of Nairobi, which later expanded to include two kindergartens, two primary schools, and a junior school. The total number of students now exceeds 2,700, and the school employs 327 staff members.

The school, St. Bakhita, gained popularity quickly. In its first year, it attracted 32 students who needed an alternative after a nearby kindergarten closed down. By the fifth year, the enrollment had reached 172 students, leading to the school’s expansion into neighboring properties. The kindergarten had a two-year waiting list within the first five years.

The entrepreneur asserted that the rise in popularity of private schools was due to a policy change in 2003 that caused parents to lean towards private education, seeking quality education for their children. In fact, between 2014 and 2020, the number of private schools increased from 7,742 to 16,594. The success of the South B kindergarten led Mutinda to open a franchise in Machakos in 2011. In its first year, the Machakos kindergarten enrolled 53 children.

In 2017, the Kenyan government introduced a new curriculum that aligned perfectly with St. Bakhita’s educational approach. This caused Mutinda to open two additional primary schools to meet the changing needs of the community.

In 2020, Fanisi Capital, a private equity firm, acquired a minority stake in St. Bakhita Schools at about $2.5 million, which Mutinda noted was in alignment with the school’s growth strategy.

Mutinda’s advice for others is, “There is so much potential in every one of us. We shouldn’t look at our businesses just as a form of sustenance but as a source of employment with the ability to transform society. You can take your business from one level to another by creating workable structures.”

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: September 5, 2023


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