x

Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 June 2018

Free online tool helps schools find their business acumen 

Teach a Man to Fish is a platform that offers teachers and pupils around the world resources to help them find business opportunities within their schools and make them financially viable 

Nik Kafka, the founder and CEO of Teach a Man to Fish, had enough of banking in London so set off for South America, where he came up with the idea for his business. Pawan Singh / The National
Nik Kafka, the founder and CEO of Teach a Man to Fish, had enough of banking in London so set off for South America, where he came up with the idea for his business. Pawan Singh / The National

After working as a banker in London, Nik Kafka decided that a change was needed and he shifted his priorities toward philanthropy.

“I wanted to do something a bit more socially positive,” the Briton said.

He bought a ticket to Paraguay and flew down to get involved with a microfinancing organisation. The local group he was working with had recently been given a technical high school, with some dairy cows and a dormitory. They were trying to figure out how to make the property financially solvent, and that’s when the lightbulb began to glow.

“We worked with them on a model of using the school’s facilities as a business opportunity, which the students can take part in, they can learn some real skills,” said Mr Kafka, who recently participated in a workshop at Qudwa 2017 in Abu Dhabi to help teachers learn how to teach young people business and entrepreneurial skills. “And it really worked.”

The teachers and students produced 16 different money-making schemes using local resources available on the property, ingenuity and their own skills and time. They converted the dorms into a hotel, they milked the cows and produced cheese and they grew an organic garden. Their profits were reinvested in their school and business and today sales from the Paraguay school are about US$600,000 annually, Mr Kafka said.

The early success of this venture inspired him to launch Teach a Man to Fish, a free online platform that offers teachers and students resources to help them find business opportunities within their schools, manage finances, establish a budget and become financially viable.

“We are basically focused on trying to empower young people with the skills to succeed in life and in work,” said Mr Kafka. “We work with schools all around the world with a real focus also on developing countries to introduce enterprise programmes as a platform for learning.”

Read more: Dubai school for entrepreneurs as young as six

Mr Kafka said about 5,000 schools around the world in 100 countries have signed up for Teach a Man to Fish, which also offers an international competition - the School Enterprise Challenge - to reward entrepreneurial students and teachers who operate financially and academically successful businesses from their schools. Schools interested in signing up for the School Enterprise Challenge 2018, which offers combined prizes worth US$50,000, can do so now on www.schoolenterprisechallenge.org.

“Lots of schools do fundraising but if you just do it as fundraising, you miss out on a huge educational opportunity. But if you structure it as a business, you can generate even better returns over a few years, plus all the other kinds of learning that comes out of it,” said Mr Kafka.

“The big impact that we want to see and where it has the real potential is in unleashing the power of these students and changing what they want to do in the future, creating aspiration, giving them a lot of confidence and changing their mindset a little bit from being job-seekers to being job-creators.”