Child care centre bets on quality to keep young ones streaming in

Victoria Kids Care founder Victoria Muraya (left) with managing director Peter Muraya. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG
Victoria Kids Care founder Victoria Muraya (left) with managing director Peter Muraya. PHOTO | DIANA NGILA | NMG  

When Victoria Muraya returned home after eight years in the United States, she only had one compulsion; to run a quality child care centre.

In August 2014, equipped with a passion for children, she established Victoria Kids Care in Garden Estate, Nairobi.

She envisioned it as a place for laying the foundation for raising capable and confident children.

Today, the centre has enrolled 45 children aged between eight months and five years from the neighbourhood.

Aside from the state-of-the-art facility, most of the equipment was imported from abroad. It has a caregiver to child ratio of 1:4.

This means that the children get maximum attention during their stay at the facility, which operates daily from 6.45 am to 6 pm.

“I believe that our children can be independent thinkers, inquisitive and self-confident just like those in the US if they are provided with a good learning environment,” said Mrs Muraya.

The concept borrows heavily from Mrs Muraya’s experience in the United States where she worked as an early childhood development teacher.

Victoria Kids Care, which includes a baby care and a kindergarten, caters for children from Garden Estate, Kiambu Road, Roysambu, Kasarani, Jacaranda and Kahawa Sukari.

The five classes where learning is conducted have carpeted floors and are equipped with colourful furniture including beds where children sleep at noon.

The facility offers an integrated curriculum that incorporates play and learning to churn out graduates who, according to Mrs Muraya, can fit in any education system.

The children are taken through different activities depending on their age. For instance, those aged between one and two years are yet to master how to read and write, thus their main activity is ‘‘circle time” which involves lots of singing and story telling.

Parents can select from a variety of pay-packages on offer including daily, weekly and monthly. Peter Muraya, the business’ managing director and Mrs Muraya’s son, said the centre is equipped with cameras to monitor children’s activities and boost security.

The caregivers are forbidden from beating children. “We do weekly reports to parents and guardians just to keep then in the loop about their children’s progress at the facility,” the 28-year-old told the Business Daily during the interview.

The centre sits on a quarter acre and has 15 employees. The business generates between Sh500,000 and Sh1 million per month.

The seed capital invested in the project was Sh10 million, most of which was used on setting it up, a process which took almost a year.

While referrals from parents have seen the centre’s popularity grow, Mr Muraya said, initial stages were loaded with challenges including trust issues from potential clients.

He said the first mistake was believing that the centre would be half full within three months of setting it up, coupled with finding the right team of caregivers to work with.

“Since this is a new concept for local parents, embracing it took lots of convincing before we started receiving children,” he said.

The institution has developed a mobile application dubbed Hi-Mama, which enables parents to keep in touch with their children.

Parents get updates on their children’s activities at the facility including the meals they eat, what they learn and how they interact with peers.

The updates, which include the child’s development, are sent via email which also accords parents a chance to seek clarifications and ask questions.

Mr Muraya said they were introducing an online system that will enable parents to watch their children’s activities at the facility.