School fundraising venture becomes a free resource to develop pupils’ business acumen
After working as a banker in London, Nik Kafka decided that a change was needed and he shifted his priorities toward philanthropy.
“I wanted to do something a bit more socially positive,” the Briton said.
He bought a ticket to Paraguay and got involved with a microfinancing organisation. The group he was working with had recently been given a technical high school, with some dairy cows and a dormitory. They were trying to work out how to make the property financially solvent and that is when the lightbulb began to glow.
“We worked with them on a model of using the school’s facilities as a business opportunity, which the students can take part in, they can learn some real skills,” said Mr Kafka, who recently participated in a workshop at Qudwa 2017 in Abu Dhabi to help teachers learn how to teach young people business and entrepreneurial skills. “And it really worked.”
The teachers and students produced 16 money-making schemes using resources on the property, ingenuity and their skills and time.
They converted the dorms into a hotel, they milked the cows and produced cheese and they grew an organic garden. Their profits were reinvested in their school and business and, today, sales from the Paraguay
school are about US$600,000 (Dh2.2 million) annually, Mr Kafka said.
The early success of this venture inspired him to launch Teach a Man to Fish, an online platform that offers teachers and students free resources to help them find business opportunities within their schools, manage finances, establish a budget and become financially viable.
“We are basically focused on trying to empower young people with the skills to succeed in life and in work,” said Mr Kafka. “We work with schools all around the world, with a real focus also on developing countries to introduce enterprise programmes as a platform for learning.”
Mr Kafka said about 5,000 schools in 100 countries have signed up for Teach a Man to Fish, which also offers an international competition – the School Enterprise Challenge – to reward entrepreneurial students and teachers who operate financially and academically successful businesses from their schools. Schools interested in signing up for the School Enterprise Challenge 2018, which offers combined prizes worth US$50,000, can do so now on www.schoolenterprisechallenge.org.
“Lots of schools do fundraising but if you just do it as fundraising, you miss out on a huge educational opportunity. But if you structure it as a business, you can generate better returns over a few years, plus all the other kinds of learning that comes out of it,” said Mr Kafka.
“The big impact that we want to see and where it has the real potential is in unleashing the power of these students and changing what they want to do in the future, creating aspiration, giving them a lot of confidence and changing their mindset a little bit from being job-seekers to being job creators.”
About 5,000 schools in 100 countries have signed up for Teach a Man to Fish
Nik Kafka was a banker in London but an interest in microfinance, and a school in Paraguay, led him to set up Teach a Man to Fish