Nestled in middle of the Korogocho slum lays a safe haven for women and their children. Sarafina Daycare has been taking care of children at a small fee while their mothers look for a means to fend for themselves and their children through small jobs in the community. This means that the women do not have to stay at home to look after their children as they have a safe space where they can take them to learn and spend the day. As we entered the daycare, we were met with eager looks from the children as they shouted “Teacher! Teacher!”
Not too far off is Little Angels Daycare, right in the middle of the busy Korogocho market. Being a market day, the streets are impossible to pass, but here lays a daycare in the middle of all the chaos. These two daycares have something in common. They are taking care of children in the community with the help of Tiny Totos Kenya, a job that requires passion and commitment.
Tiny Totos Kenya was started in September 2013 by its co-founders Cynthia Coredo and Emma Caddy Gikunda. They set out to demonstrate that informal daycare entrepreneurs or managers who had not received any training, had the potential to earn improved incomes and provide services to vulnerable pre-school children in their care if given the necessary capital and technical assistance. The grant partnership with KCDF of Kshs. 5M to train the daycare managers was awarded in November 2017 with a completion of the project expected to be on October 2019.
Since 2014, Tiny Totos have been receiving donor funding and that has helped them in enhancing their internal systems, service delivery and improving revenue for poor women in slums in the informal sector within neglected urban wards of Eastleigh, and areas such as Huruma, Dandora, Baba Dogo, Korogocho, Kariobangi and Pipeline. Their main objective is to build robust livelihoods for these women who run the slum-based daycares.
Through these daycare centers, they have been able to give mothers an opportunity to go back to work and earn a living as their children are being taken care of and are learning early childhood basic skills.
‘This work has a lot of challenges, it is not easy, but we have to help our community” Margaret Wairimu, the owner of Sarafina Daycare says as she holds one of the babies in her arms. The daycare center has a total of 17 parents and takes in children who are six months old and above.
Margaret derives a lot of joy from being a daycare manager. She loves children and believes they are a blessing. The children are brought in early morning and are engaged in activities such as drawing and crafting. At lunch time they are provided with a meal.
When evening arrives, their parents come to pick them up one by one. Some of the challenges she faces include the high number of children and the high cost of a business permit. In the last six months, Margaret has learnt a lot from Tiny Totos Kenya on how to run the center with the little she gets from charging for daycare.
In partnership with KCDF through the Kibera Fund programme that focuses on improving livelihoods in the urban slums, Tiny Totos have been able to train 26 daycare managers in these informal settlements equipping them with the necessary skills that will ensure that their centers flourish as a business.
There has been an increase in the number of daycare managers and clients participating in the trainings with 58 community members being trained on essentials of running a daycare business such as managing finances and investments, activity planning, getting the license, business permits and safety precautions when dealing with children. 115 parents have been trained on topics other than business such as good nutrition and childcare welfare.
By talking to Anna Wandia, the owner of Little Angels Daycare, you can tell that she has the confidence to deliver the quality services in her daycare. She has invested in charts and the drawings for the children, her walls are well branded with the daily food menu, daycare charges and enrollment requirements. Wandia has carpeted her two rooms so that the area is clean and neat for the children to play in. In addition, she has a helper who prepares the meals for the children.
The children are dropped by their parents early in the morning and the learning and activities soon begin. There is lots of coloring and playing with dolls. The children are also taught songs to which they were happy to sing to us. Wandia tells us that this is her primary source of income and daily routine. She has similar challenges to Margaret, but what was keen to note is that some parents delay in paying the fees while others are unable to provide basic essentials such as change of clothes and diapers.
The daycare has a total of 45 parents and takes in children from one year and above. The awards on the walls show an outstanding daycare manager thanks to the training she got from Tiny Totos Kenya. The joy that the children exude tell a story of happiness and fulfillment.
“Some of these children are being raised by single mothers,” shares Wandia.
At Little Angels Daycare, the mothers pay a fee of around 50 shillings a day. She has also collected other resources such as extra clothes and toys which she provides to the children.
One of the innovations that Tiny Totos Kenya has been keen on is the Loyalty Points System. This is a client focused sales incentives platform that enables clients, who include the parents, to earn and eventually redeem points by spending on affiliated products such as pressure cookers, ceramic water filters and LPG cook stoves, all essentials for the home. The mobile sales application will be used to track payments by the daycare managers and this data will enable Tiny Totos to assess the creditworthiness of potential clients.
Tiny Totos Kenya has been in talks with the county government to address policies regarding daycare regulations. Daycares such as Sarafina face a challenge of obtaining the business license permit required to operate the daycare. The cost is Kshs. 30,000/= and this is obviously too expensive for these small business owners. Through various efforts, Tiny Totos Kenya has been lobbying the county government to try and set up new guidelines that are favorable for the centers so as to reach a larger number of parents who need these much-needed services.