Paul Kiwalabye is an entrepreneur from Uganda, and he is the Director of Blessing Schools, a school that provides affordable, holistic education services that incorporate knowledge, values, and skills while making it possible for the less privileged children to co-exist in one environment with their counterparts for collect upward social-economic mobility.
Paul is the third born of twelve siblings. Having such a big family, the first four children had to start working as early as possible, so after O’Level, they attended a primary school teacher’s certificate course. But Paul’s dream has always been to become an entrepreneur.
“Of course, I had childhood dreams of becoming a businessman. But the particular business was fuzzy then. What I vividly remember thinking of was running a motor vehicle garage as a mechanic after Primary seven.” he said.
“Up to now, Blessing Schools has attracted 580 pupils and supports
over 40 less privileged but talented children each year.”
At some point in his life, he decided to make his dream come true, so he upgraded his education to a diploma in Primary Education and finally succeeded in opening his school.
“One man said: if life hands you a lemon, make lemonade! So, after 15 years of serving in two private primary schools, I saw the opportunity to leverage my teaching skills as a key factor in starting a school. In 2008, I resigned from my post as a Headteacher of a private primary school, and I hit the road armed with barely anything but the vision and skills. That is the lemonade I squeezed out of the lemon.”
Lately, Paul felt that to lead a school properly he had to better understand how to work with communities. He enrolled for a Bachelor of Social Development and Counseling at Uganda Martyrs University. He also required entrepreneurial skills, so he decided to attend the Global MBA in Impact Entrepreneurship at Uganda Martyrs University to model his business idea, develop a business plan, and fully understand his entrepreneurial venture’s dynamics.
“This MBA is phenomenal. It’s a hands-on, eye-opener to the business dynamics. It has helped me correct mistakes I originally made in many spheres of business, for example, in Financial Modeling, pricing, and governance issues.” Paul stated.
But let’s learn more about Paul’s business and history.
“Blessing Schools has been the top tier school at
Primary Leaving Examinations in Masaka Municipality.”
1.How was your Business Idea born?
Being a teacher, this idea was born out of the desire to provide affordable quality education to the less privileged. My teaching experience of 15 years taught me that many gifted but economically/socially disadvantaged learners miss out on education advancement due to their incapacitating circumstances.
I have helped out several children. A case in point is Henry. This one was a very bright boy in my Primary four Class of 1996. He lost his father, and the mother couldn’t afford to pay tuition in boarding school. Their home was a long way from school, about 30 km. I offered him to live with me to attend day school shortly until his mother has been able to take him and his two siblings back to the village. It worked miracles, and to cut a long story short. He is now a medical doctor in our country. He is the one now who has elevated his family from the desperate state they were in.
Each school year, we are touching close to 40 children in such deplorable circumstances, and we are optimistic the transformation we envision will materialize.
2.How can your business improve the life of the beneficiaries of your activities?
First of all, the supported children can have a decent education at a low cost. This can be a steppingstone for overcoming the handicapping situations in their families and communities. Reciprocity is possible.
Education is like light. For those children we support and the rest in our schools, we advocate for them in families where educational attainment would not be a priority. Gladly, Blessing Schools helped one brilliant girl and our Old Girl (Shanitah Namirimu) for her O’levels (2014-2017) in a top-tier secondary school in this country. At A’ level, the family took over because it had dawned on them that education is the way to a bright future. She is in her high school vacation this year. I trust she’ll make it to the government-sponsored list for University. This will consequently make her realize her dream in education besides relieving her parents of the tuition burden.
Most learners we support but are as well talented in sports & other co-curricular activities access scholarships in secondary schools’ courtesy of our talent nurturing. The burden of tuition is lifted from the parent or guardian. This is a sample as a result of our interventions. The list of improvements is endless on our part.
3.What has been the main challenge you had to overcome in your entrepreneurial experience?
The main challenge was the lack of finances despite the trust of people who formerly knew me in the venture. The facilities we began with were shanty and make-shift structures. For starters, it was even far-fetched to embrace our idea. The price we paid for this was being despised and ridiculed to put us down.
For finance, we got a credit institution to work with us. Some friends and family too supported the cause. Our resilience put off those who first saw the project as being illusory.
4.In your opinion, what are the main qualities an entrepreneur should have?
In my opinion, faith (in God and your abilities), courage, resilience, and a tunnel vision can work wonders.
5.Is there a person you are inspired by, i.e., an entrepreneur or a particular mentor?
Robert. T. Kiyosaki is a gem to me. His works have shaped my entrepreneurial mind. I review his work regularly.
6.What would you suggest to a new-born entrepreneur?
To any starter: Step out in faith, stand up to be counted and stand out. Then, shut up as you count the rewards. Go for the Gold you envision. Nobody should dictate otherwise.
7.Could you tell us a particular satisfactory moment you had in your entrepreneurial activity?
The day we bought our parcel of land for the primary school is remarkable. It is shelved top-level in the archives of my memory on my entrepreneurial journey. It is the day I knew it would work out. We were bidding farewell to rent bills.
8.Could you tell us how the MBA has helped you and your business?
In the two years, we have expanded and built a separate site for the nursery school. I have extended the knowledge to my children, staff, pupils in the school and church community. I initiated the formation of a Savings and Credit Co-operative Society of my church, and I am the sitting chair to the executive. It is progressing well. In a nutshell, I achieved more than I had bargained for.
Learn more on Blessing Schools
Facebook page: @Blessinschools