Founded by Hafsatu Hamza-Babaji and located in Kaduna, Nigeria, Teen Tycoons is a vocational training school for children ages 6 to 18. A 2016 Tony Elumelu entrepreneurship program participant, Hafsatu Hamza-Babaji describes herself as a “skills development specialist.” She says that her company uses practical experiences to facilitate learning. She continues, “students at the school learn about goals setting, business plan writing and have the opportunity to participate in a skills fair – an event set up for students to market and sell their products and services.”
Teen Tycoons teaches kids digital visual production, sewing, shoemaking, recycling, agricultural techniques, beauty artistry, pottery, how to create juices and how to build with hydra form; useful skills that can help to build their entrepreneurial skills. In this interview, Hafsatu discusses what inspired her to start as well as the next steps for her business.
How did you come up with your business name?
I am a mother of 3 and I realized that my children needed to understand the value of money. I felt that they needed to learn how to respect hard work. After my research, I found that there was a need for this service – a school where kids can learn about financial literacy and acquire skills that can help to build their entrepreneurial abilities.
As part of my research, I tried to find apprenticeship positions for my children but could not find anyone or schools willing to teach young children that were not their own. Therefore, I decided to take matters into my own hands and started Teen Tycoons. Our mission is to inspire and guide children ages 6 to 18 to become entrepreneurs (tycoons) hence the name.
Who inspired you to start this business?
My children inspired me start. It is my desire to teach them hard work, respect and independence. I feel that our children have become very sheltered due to challenges such as insecurity, terrorism and drug abuse. For me, there became an urgent need to create a safe environment where children can learn these values – hard work, respect and independence.
Who is your target market?
Children ages 6 to 18 who come from middle to upper-middle class homes and do not have that safe environment to learn vocational skills.
How have you financed your business?
I have used my personal savings and received support from family and friends.
What is your competitive edge?
- Our target age – most vocational training centers do not teach children between the ages of 6 and 18;
- Delivery method – we use the theory of constructivism (learning by doing);
- We have a mix of both entrepreneurial and vocational skills training– most centers offer only 1. We offer both.
What is the long-term plan for your business?
In five (5) years, I would like to offer vocational certifications and training programs approved by the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) at least a level 3 on the National Vocational Qualification Framework. I would also like to have branches in at least eight (8) cities in Nigeria. This is my vision.
What challenges do you face?
Financing. My biggest challenge is financing. With available financing, I would like to set up child-friendly workshops with all the safety requirements in place. I would also like to include more vocational skills training workshops (we offer 6 currently).
Secondly, getting the buy-in of parents. Some people do not understand the importance of teaching their children about financial independence at an early age. It is my job to educate them.
Finally, finding the right kind of facilitators. Teachers tend to teach and not facilitate while entrepreneurs tend not to have the time to facilitate. A lot of my time is spent training the facilitators and retention is a major challenge for my business.
What key things have you learned since starting your business?
- Be dedicated: Starting a business takes patience and requires hard work;
- Marketing matters: You can get a lot of traffic using word of mouth and referrals;
- Gain Access to Numerous Networks: networking connects you and your business to others who may otherwise not have known about your business.
- Be creative and innovative: You need to be creative and innovative to overcome certain challenges;
- Be persistent: You need to be persistent in chasing your goals.
What five (5) things do startup entrepreneurs need to know?
- Be persistent.
- Be passionate about what you do.
- Be patient.
- Be prepared to take risks.
- Enjoy what you do – have fun.
How do you think African youths can continue to support each other?
African youths can support each other by sharing their experiences and ideas with one another. When this happens, we can attain higher levels of achievements.
How many jobs have you created so far?
I have hired seven (7) permanent staff and an average of 8 to 10 contract staff (depending on the month).
How has technology enhanced your business?
I believe in the power of technology and I am able to integrate it in almost everything we do at the company. We also offer ICT classes to teach our students how technology can enhance their business ideas.
How can we support and improve innovation in Africa?
We can support and improve innovation in Africa by providing platforms, offering networking and learning opportunities.
Contact Teen Tycoons here:
Twitter: Teen Tycoons
Facebook: Teen Tycoons
Phone: +234 803 200 3296