School fundrais­ing ven­ture be­comes a free re­source to de­velop pupils’ busi­ness acu­men

The National - News - - EMIRATES NEWS - ROBERTA PEN­NING­TON

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

Pawan Singh / The Na­tional

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

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