Jenifer’s story: giving children a place to learn and play
Jenifer used the HerVenture app to develop the skills to manage her crèche.
I wanted to create a space where these kids could come and stay while their parents are away. With this crèche, my aim really is to take them out of the streets. And I hope that when they are grown up, they will also help the community.
Working with children has always been Jenifer’s passion. But when she started her crèche in 2021, she received very little encouragement from those around her. With the pandemic, her business fell on hard times. A year in, the crèche was running empty as parents, struggling with job losses, pulled their children out. It’s the HerVenture app, Moyo says, that equipped her with the tools to get her business back on track and gave her the encouragement to keep going.
I’m Jenifer and I own and run a crèche called Tree of Life in Cape Town, South Africa.
I started this business because I’m passionate about children. I used to look after the younger children in my family from a very young age. Later, I became a Sunday school teacher. I am happiest when I am with children. I enjoy having them around. Even if I am stressed at home, when I come here, I feel free, because children always make you happy. They do some fun stuff and then you start to laugh, even though when you came you were angry.
In this part of Cape Town, a lot of children are just out on the streets while their parents are at work. They are exposed to gangsterism and alcohol while they are very young. So I wanted to create a space where these kids could come and stay while their parents are away. With this crèche, my aim really is to take them out of the streets. And I hope that when they are grown up, they will also help the community.
I was just going to call them for free; they could play the whole day and go home at the end of it. But we have to pay for the place that we are renting and pay for the teacher. I started by doing a course on child development that taught me how to care for children. I got my certificate. Then in September 2020, I registered a company under the name of Tree of Life. After that we started looking for a venue and finally found one on January 18, 2021. That’s when we opened the business and we are now more than a year old, and that makes me very happy. But it’s not been easy.
When we started out, we had about 13 children. But COVID-19 affected a lot of parents; there were no jobs, no money, and they had to withdraw their kids from the crèche. At one point things got so bad that we had no children.
We were struggling with monetary issues, but we didn’t close the doors. We were still paying the rent, still doing everything else, because I was always taught that if you fail, that’s only the start and you have to learn from all the mistakes. This is when a lady in my church told me about the HerVenture app. I downloaded it and started reading and answering the questions. That took me about three days. HerVenture taught me a lot about how to revive my business. And so we started again. We put up advertisements, like the app taught us to do, and children started coming in again. We got to five children by the start of this year, we still have them, and we are enjoying working with them.
I have to thank HerVenture for teaching me a lot of things in my business. It helped me learn how to advertise my business, how to do my own bookkeeping and how to organise the crèche.
When we started, we just told people we are opening a crèche. We didn’t have anything else. After I downloaded the app, we made a banner which we put outside so that when people pass, they would see that there is a crèche. We also advertised on WhatsApp. Our crèche teacher was advertising on Facebook.
The most effective thing I learned and implemented is doing my own bookkeeping. When we started, we were just receiving money from the parents and we used it to do and get the things we needed. Since I began to use HerVenture, I have been giving parents receipts and keeping a record book tracking whatever income comes in, whatever I have used the money for, and so on.
That’s why I can say with certainty that HerVenture helped me a lot. When I started my journey, I did not know much. I had a certificate but that taught me theoretical things. It couldn’t help me to do a lot of practical things actually. So the only thing I would tell other female entrepreneurs is that if you want to succeed in your business, you better download the HerVenture app because you won’t go wrong with it. It helps you learn how to start, how to implement a lot of things, and how to go about managing the business.
As women, people look down upon you wherever you go. You may be qualified, but they will still look down upon you. You can stand up and prove to them that you can do this, but you need some kind of encouragement. When I started the crèche, a lot of people were saying, “No you can’t do it. It’s work for men only. You can be a principal, you’ll still be employed by the owner of the business, so you’ll need to have men helping you”. But I stood on my own, with no men supporting me. Sure, men can support me by saying, “You can do it!”, but not financially. I had to stand on my own.
I am trying to be independent, actually, as an entrepreneur. I want to create my own money, my own wealth. For me, the encouragement to do that came from the HerVenture app. I see myself in the business at least for the next five years to come. I see myself expanding not this facility alone, but maybe also having three or four others in the same community. I see myself also expanding abroad. I think one day it will happen.
Made possible by...
HerVenture is available in South Africa thanks to funding from our partner DHL Express.
Partnering for impact
We were able to bring HerVenture to South Africa thanks to our partnership with DHL Express. The extraordinary support of our private sector partners, trusts, institutions, and foundations enables us to deliver projects that touch the lives of thousands of women entrepreneurs across the world. We're always seeking new partners to bring our work to more women, countries and regions!Find out more
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