Starting a preschool in Nigeria can be a rewarding yet challenging undertaking. With the right planning and preparation, your preschool can become a thriving business that provides quality early childhood education. This comprehensive guide will walk you through all the key steps involved in launching a successful and profitable preschool in Nigeria.
Step 1: Conduct Market Research
The first step is conducting thorough market research to assess the demand and competitive landscape for preschools in your target location. Here are some important things to research:
Look at population data, family sizes, and income levels in the area to gauge the number of families with young children who can afford preschool services. Focus on middle to high-income households who prioritize education.
Research existing preschools in surrounding areas to analyze the fees they charge, facilities offered, curriculum and programs, and general reputation. This will give insights into market rates and how to differentiate your preschool.
Create surveys for parents in your target market to understand their needs and preferences when choosing a preschool. Get insights into important factors like location, fees, curriculum, safety, facilities etc.
Look at preschool enrolment trends and growth rates nationally and in your state/city. Growing demand indicates a favourable market.
Research the regulatory environment. In Lagos for instance, preschools must be registered with the Office of Education Quality Assurance (OEQA).
Thorough market research will give you clarity on the customer needs, ideal location, competitive landscape, and regulations for launching your preschool.
Step 2: Make a Business Plan
After researching the market opportunity, develop a detailed business plan for your preschool. This covers your business goals, operational plan, and financial projections. Key components to include:
A brief overview of your preschool’s concept, highlights of the business plan and future growth aims.
Details on your preschool’s vision, mission, values, and educational philosophy.
Describe your offerings – curriculum, classes, facilities, safety and security, food program etc. Highlight unique selling points.
Use your market research insights to outline details of your target market, their needs, and competitive analysis.
Strategies for pricing, promotions, advertising, partnerships, referrals etc. to attract students and promote the preschool.
Plans for preschool setup logistics, hiring staff, daily schedules, safety, maintenance, supplies etc.
Describe your personnel plan and profiles of key team members/teachers. Highlight relevant experience.
Forecast startup costs, income sources (tuition fees etc.), ongoing operational expenses, profit/loss projections etc.
With a solid business plan, you can seek funding from banks or investors if required. It will also guide you through the preschool setup process.
Step 3: Obtain Necessary Licenses & Permits
To legally operate a preschool in Nigeria, you must procure all required registrations, licenses and permits. Key approvals needed include:
- Business name registration: Register your preschool’s name with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).
- Education board license: In Lagos, register with the Office of Education Quality Assurance (OEQA) under the Ministry of Education. Other states have similar agencies.
- Fire safety: Obtain a fire certificate from the state fire service department. They will inspect your premises.
- Health/sanitation: Get appropriate health certifications from your state’s health department/Ministry of Health.
- Local government approval: Get approval from the LGA before opening your preschool.
- Building inspection: For constructing a new facility, get a building inspection/certificate of occupancy from city authorities.
- Tax registrations: Register for income tax and VAT with the FIRS and state tax authorities.
Ensure all paperwork and licenses are secured before admissions. Non-compliance can result in penalties or shutdown.
Step 4: Obtain Funding and Finances
Starting a preschool in Nigeria requires significant upfront capital expenditure. Carefully project costs during planning and arrange sufficient funding. Common options include:
Use your personal savings or sell assets to self-fund startup costs. This avoids repaying loans.
Approach banks and submit your business proposal to apply for small business loans at favourable interest rates.
Find private investors ready to invest capital in your preschool for a share of profits/equity. Prepare pitches highlighting return potential.
Run crowdfunding campaigns via sites like NgFundMe to source startup funds from multiple backers. Offer rewards for different contribution tiers.
Some government agencies and NGOs offer small grants/funds to support education entrepreneurs. Research availability and eligibility criteria.
Team up with an established school as a preschool wing/franchise for lower startup costs via shared resources.
Create a funding plan that limits external debt. Monitor cashflows diligently once operating. With prudent finances, your preschool can be highly profitable.
Step 5: Find an Ideal Location
Choosing the right location is critical for your preschool’s accessibility and commercial viability. Consider these key factors:
Pick areas with a sizeable number of families with children in your target age group of 2-4 years. Focus on middle to high-income neighborhoods.
Opt for sites on busy roads with strong drive-by visibility that’s convenient for parents to spot and access.
Ensure the location is easily accessible by public transport and roads. Parking availability is also an advantage.
Avoid locating too close to established competitors. But some proximity to target customers is still desirable.
Standalone compounds are ideal but more expensive. Shared compounds and converted residential bungalows are cheaper options.
Prioritize locations with reliable electricity, ample water supply, good road access and ample mobile network coverage.
Select areas with low crime rates. Avoid trouble spots and investigate the site vicinity thoroughly.
Visit potential sites to judge suitability before finalizing your preferred location. Rent first before constructing/purchasing your own building.
Step 6: Design and Set Up Your Preschool Facility
The preschool facility setup and design is very important for child safety, comfort and learning. Follow these tips:
For a standard setup, allocate around 9-12 square metres of indoor space per child. Outdoor space of around 7-10 sq. m per child is also recommended.
Have at least 3-4 well-ventilated classrooms that are clean, spacious and can fit 15-20 children comfortably. Include child-sized tables, chairs, shelves and learning corners.
Create indoor and outdoor play areas with play equipment, toys and games. Include sections for pretend play, climbing, ball games etc.
Install child-friendly washrooms with multiple toilets and low sinks accessible to children, separated by gender.
Have a hygienic kitchen for preparing meals/snacks for children if providing catering services.
Create admin/management office space and a reception/waiting area for parents.
Install safety features like fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, CCTV cameras, first aid kits, guard rails on stairs etc.
Use bright, inviting colours and decor. Paint fun murals and display children’s artwork for a lively ambience.
While constructing your own facility has more control, starting in a rented space allows testing your business model first.
Step 7: Purchase Educational Supplies and Equipment
To deliver effective early childhood education, invest in good quality supplies and equipment for your preschool, including:
Child-sized tables, chairs, soft mats, shelving units, storage boxes and cupboards.
Picture books, storybooks, alphabets and number charts, puzzles, educational toys, flashcards etc.
Arts and crafts materials like paper, crayons, paints, play dough, coloring sheets etc.
Balls, hoops, blocks, rocking toys, tricycles, climbing frames, slides etc.
Whiteboards, posters, educational videos/songs, costumes and props for role playing.
CD players, televisions, tablets, computers and child-friendly software.
Stoves, refrigerators, storage containers etc. if providing cooked meals.
Shop around for attractive pricing, but don’t compromise too much on quality for core supplies used daily by children.
Step 8: Hire Your Preschool Staff
Recruiting the right teachers and support staff is crucial for your preschool’s success. Ideal candidates should have:
- Relevant qualifications like diplomas in early childhood education.
- Previous preschool teaching experience.
- Warm, patient and nurturing personalities who connect well with young children.
- Upbeat energy and ability to keep children engaged through active lessons.
- Creativity for designing a fun, interactive curriculum.
- Strong classroom management skills.
- Passion for early education and child development.
- First aid training and child protection knowledge.
To attract qualified candidates, offer attractive salaries and benefits relative to market rates. Perform background checks before hiring. Maintain about a 1:10 teacher-to-child ratio.
Also hire administrative, cleaning and security personnel as needed for smooth operations.
Step 9: Develop Your Preschool Curriculum
Creating an engaging, age-appropriate curriculum is vital for children’s development and learning outcomes. Key steps:
Define curriculum goals aligned to Nigeria’s Early Childhood Care Development and Education (ECCDE) framework for areas like literacy, numeracy, motor skills, cognitive skills, creativity etc.
Create Lesson Plans
Plan daily/weekly lessons and activities to achieve set goals across subjects like language, math, science, arts and crafts, music etc. Incorporate learning through play.
Structure and Schedule
Organize curriculum into age groups like nursery 1-2, pre-primary 1-3 etc. Schedule lesson times, nap times and activity periods optimally within the school day.
Obtain required learning materials like books, educational toys and games, colouring supplies, flashcards etc. to supplement lessons.
Decide parameters, tools and frequency for assessing children’s learning progress, and reporting to parents.
Train teachers extensively on delivering your curriculum and working with tender age groups. Hold regular refresher training.
The right curriculum fosters all-round development for young learners and keeps them happily engaged.
Step 10: Set Your Preschool Fees
Pricing directly impacts profitability and perception of your services. Consider these factors while setting fees:
Fees should align with income levels in your target market. Offer discounts or flexible payment plans if required.
Keep fees on par with or slightly below competitor preschools in your location targeting similar customer segments.
Higher fees can portray a more premium preschool image. But don’t set prices too high beyond perceived value.
Factor in costs like rent, staff salaries, supplies, utilities etc. Fees should cover expenses at minimum.
Decide your profit goals for sustainability and growth. Add a suitable markup to costs while pricing competitively.
Decide fee structure – hourly, daily, monthly or termly fees. Allow instalment payments to ease parents’ budgets.
Review and revise your fee structure annually based on market conditions.
Step 11: Promote Your Preschool
Use diverse promotional strategies to create awareness and attract student enrollment, including:
Have a professional website highlighting your preschool’s vision, facilities, curriculum, fees and admission process.
Leverage platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to engage parents daily with updates, photos and reviews.
Host open house events where prospective parents can visit and experience your preschool first-hand.
Encourage current parents to recommend your preschool within their networks through word-of-mouth. Offer referral rewards.
Partner with pediatric clinics, play groups, parent associations etc. to reach families with young children. Distribute flyers on-site if possible.
Advertise in local newspapers, magazines, radio and kid-friendly channels on cable TV.
The goal is to convey your preschool’s unique strengths and advantages to your target market through multiple channels.
Step 12: Manage Admissions
Systemize your student admission process with forms, interviews, documentation etc. Key aspects:
Collect student information like DOB, medical history, parent contacts, emergency contacts etc. via forms.
Conduct parent/child interviews to understand needs and explain your preschool’s approach. Let children see classrooms.
Charge a small upfront registration fee on enrollment to secure admission. This can be adjusted against the first tuition instalment.
Maintain waiting lists when capacity is fully utilized, and let parents know when vacancies arise.
Maintain files on each admitted child with all documentation, payments, attendance, medical history etc.
Organize a pre-start orientation session for newly admitted parents and children to familiarize them.
Promptly notify applicants regarding selection or rejection to prevent losing prospective students.
Step 13: Comply with Health and Safety Standards
As guardians of young children, preschools must guarantee stringent health and safety standards. Some key actions:
Ensure teachers diligently watch children at all times – while playing, eating, in washrooms etc. Maintain ideal teacher-student ratios.
Require medical examinations and immunization records for all newly admitted children. Maintain health records.
Keep fully stocked first aid kits. Train staff in basic first aid, CPR and emergency response.
Conduct regular fire drills. Ensure fire extinguishers are installed and functional. Display emergency numbers prominently.
Follow rigorous cleaning routines. Ensure proper hand washing before meals. Disinfect toys, and surfaces frequently.
If providing meals, ensure wholesome nutritious food options, are safely prepared under hygienic conditions.
Have adequate security arrangements like guards, CCTV surveillance and authorized pickup policies for children’s safety.
Purchase necessary insurance to cover children, staff and assets.
Never compromise on child safety and care. Maintaining robust health/security standards builds parent trust and protects your business reputation.
Step 14: Manage Finances and Accounts
Prudent financial management is imperative for preschool profitability and sustainability. Ensure diligent bookkeeping and cashflow planning:
Maintain accurate records of all income, expenses, assets and liabilities using accounting software or spreadsheets.
Create professional digital invoices and receipts for fee collections, payments, supplier bills etc. Send invoice reminders to collect dues.
Make annual budgets projecting costs and revenues. Review budgets regularly and adjust activities to meet targets.
Plan cash positions and inflows/outflows monthly to avoid cash crunches. Avoid overdue payables.
Manage payroll systematically – salary slips, deductions, remittances etc. Automate processes using HR software.
Conduct internal audits and external financial audits annually. Pay all due taxes accurately within deadlines.
Prudent financial management right from startup is key for preschool profitability. Invest in accounting training if required.
Launching a successful preschool in Nigeria is very attainable with careful planning, commitment and systematic execution across critical steps – from licensing and premises to staffing, marketing, admissions and more. While demanding, preschools offer immense value by shaping children’s foundation years. Your business can thrive with a clear vision, great service and sound management.