Years in Business: 16 years
My name is Dr. Barbara Ofwono Buyondo, I am married to Mr. Paul Waswa Buyondo and a mother of 4 children- 3 boys and 1 girl. I am a graduate of Social Sciences from Makerere University, I have a post graduate diploma in Management from Uganda Management Institute, a post graduate diploma in Education from Makerere University. I am currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Curriculum studies at Makerere University and was recently awarded a Doctorate in Business Administration from Baytown University. I am a senior Educationist and a passionate entrepreneur.
What would you describe as your biggest achievement?
The greatest achievement has been establishing a modern and model education institution that is one of the best in Uganda. Victorious was established 1999, in a rented three bed roomed house with 30 children and 5 staffand has now grown to five campuses with over 350 staff and over 3,500 pupils.
Products/services provided by the business
Day care, Nursery, primary (Day and boarding) education and transport services.
How are your product/services unique from other businesses?
- We are a value based organization that nurtures values and skills. Our education is holistic; a child is nurtured well in all aspects including developing the reasoning and cognitive, the heart, someone’s attitude, we help them to develop their attitude and to know that they are very important. Help them to develop a positive relationship with God. We also help to develop the children skills and passion through their natural abilities and activities like clubs. We expose them to many things like MDD, Sports, drama, clubs, as they do those things you start seeing interests and attributes come out.
- Then the other thing unique about us is the care. Our children talk well of our institution, and people say It seems we train our children to be marketers, but when you take good care of somebody, they will never forget you. Because of our care, we realized some parents could not bring kids on time, and we asked parents if they could allow us to transport their children so that they can go home early, come to school early.
- Then we also involve and engage the stakeholders in our organizations, like the parents. In Mukono when we started we did not go to benchmark to any other boarding school, we needed a boarding school which is a home away from home because you find the child is with you most of the time in the year. We got advice from the parents and pupils and they have continuously enabled us to keep on changing and offer what is relevant for them.
- We provide transport and we are the largest transport provider for pupils. We transport hundreds of the children along the city. We were among the first schools to begin transport and our transport journey began with foot. We then eventually acquired a bus, but now we have a fleet of buses.
How have you managed to stay in business amidst competition?
- We believe in raising a God fearing generation, because we know it brings impact on the future of the child, so parents have loved that; because we are a God fearing school.
- We are consistent in our service, we don’t care today and tomorrow we have forgotten. We have had so many schools come to learn from us but that doesn’t make us feel, that we have reached. We keep asking ourselves, where we aren’t doing well so that we can do so much better than what we have, so continuous improvement has really helped us.
- Because of our service, we have repeat customer and referrals, we started spreading the news of wholesome education, at first it was not really what people loved. Most of the parents were looking only at good grades minus what else can a child do and the character. After seeing what our model was, most parents have now known our value and you find that we have from first born to last born. We were the first school to stand on the road and hug as a way of greeting so for all these years we still hug our children and this is the unique care we give to our children which we also encourage parents to do back home. That is our culture.
What would you say are the major challenges experienced by the business?
- Very unhealthy competition that comes with malice. Like when we were starting the boarding section in Mukono, they would say boarding school is for prisoners, for the children who have failed in education and this message was going to parents. And yet this idea came from the parents themselves. We don’t support each other as Ugandans and we tend to believe that a fellow Ugandan cannot do something good.
- Then there is a huge demand for our services, but it comes with huge financing needs. We have a plan of having Victorious in all divisions in Kampala and even expanding upcountry, but what limits us is the finances.
- Then the instability of the dollar, most of our funding is by the bank and whenever the dollar gains over the shilling, the interest rates are affected. The loans are on a floating rate and we cannot continuously increase the school fees. We have grown through loans, so it makes the cost of doing business very high.
- Getting reliable and competent human resource. Because of our culture, most of our people are very negative about work. We try to show them love and change their mind and keep talking to them to understand the vision and make them part of the project.
- Our education system has a lot to do to change people’s attitude towards lower level education- kindergarten and primary. Some of the people start up kindergartens just to pass time and use drop outs to teach, we also need graduates in this area to produce quality education.
Where would you want to see the business in the next 3-5 years from now?
We have a plan to roll out like now we are in Ntinda with a kindergarten. We have acquired land and are currently working on strategic plan to roll out. We hope to start a secondary school. We also have land in Entebbe.
Apart from the products/services provided by the business, how has the business contributed to the Community?
- Bakuli Community Program for improved sanitation and cleanliness. We started mobilizing the community to clean up and we experienced a change after three years from the time we started the school, and have continued to clean up the place with the community.
- We provide computer classes to children and youth for the Bakuli community during holidays for free. We also have a life skill program and spiritual nourishment.
- We have come up with a program for the drug addicts, this was one of the biggest areas with drug addicts, but we started loving them, opening doors for them, even giving them some petty work, casual work, talking to them and counseling.
- We also help a group of the disabled here in Bakuli, they make some crafts. We have partnered with them to come over and train our children and they get paid, and we also allow them to bring their products during schools days to sell.
- We also have health clinics for mothers we discovered that most of the houses in Bakuli are being run by women.
- Cleaning up of Mbalala trading centre in Mukono and we are currently organizing a skills training for the youth in hairdressing, catering, tailoring, carpentry saloon. We found that there are many unemployed youth in that trading centre.
How has MTN Uganda contributed to your achievement?
MTN Uganda has made communication easier. We can easily communicate with our stakeholders especially with parents during important days through their bulk sms service.
We have attended some of their business trainings and this has improved on the business skills that we have.