Proven New Concept Nursery School Franchise that’s already successful and growing in the UAE.
Put your phone on silent. What you’re about to learn is the true story of how we developed a new approach to early childhood education based on Finland’s incredible success, and how we took this to the UAE, opened popular profitable nursery schools, and proved that there is a better approach to educating infants than the UK’s Early Years program and Montessori.
Educators talk about Finland, but everyday people are surprised to learn that Finland consistently rates as one of the best education systems in the world. In fact many governments are studying Finland’s success. Countries who are working on education reform such as the UAE, Qatar and KSA, have all partnered with Finland to launch Finnish schools.
In PISA scores Finland consistently performs better than all European countries, and the United States, and has better retention of students at all levels of education.
We were once in a similar position to you. We wanted to open a nursery school in Dubai. But because we had already worked in the education sector in the Middle East for nearly ten years, we knew that the approach would be very important.
We studied Montessori. We investigated the British Early Years curriculum. We contacted several nursery school franchises in the USA. We thought, if we found the right partners, and the right program, we would take a master license and open nurseries in the GCC ourselves.
After a year of searching, evaluating, and talking to franchisors, we were going nowhere. We found that anybody could open a nursery and call it Montessori because the name is out of copyright. In fact Montessori started over a hundred years ago, before the Orville brothers flew the first plane, before air conditioning, before television, before the internet, Google, Facebook, and mobile apps. We wondered who’s been steering the ship. What kind of consistency can there be across thousands of independently owned Montessori nurseries with perhaps nothing more than a vague ideology being interpreted by whoever wants to.
Then parents and teacher’s told us that kids who go to Montessori nurseries often struggle to adjust to the structure of K1 or primary school education.
We found we could download the Early Years curriculum from the internet and start teaching it with no previous exposure to the methodology. Then we discovered that it’s not particularly popular with a growing number of teachers in the UK who think it is restrictive and overly focussed on getting kids prepared for school at the expense of helping them grow and develop as little humans.
We were very frustrated and on the verge of giving up when we decided to forget about the common programs, the big name brands, the largest chain nurseries, and we asked teachers a very simple question. “Where are the best schools in the world?” And we were surprised when we kept hearing about Finland. That crazy Scandinavian country, right next to Sweden, Norway and Denmark, where mothers expose their babies to the freezing cold to build their immune systems. We were curious. We knew we had to dig a little deeper.
In a little over 15 years Finland transitioned from a mainly agricultural / industrial economy to a knowledge economy. It achieved this by investing heavily in education. But not the kind of education we grew up with. No. Did you know that there are no exams for children in Finland’s schools? Yet 90% of students go on to advanced studies in university, technical or vocational study after secondary school.
This was exactly what we were looking for; an education culture that created a life-long love of learning and an innovation and problem-solving mentality.It turns out that Finland’s nursery schools provide play-based structured learning. And that’s the critical difference with Montessori – it’s not random, unguided play where the child is free to explore imagination without any reality checks, but guided play with expected learning outcomes. But not learning through memorisation which is the EYFS approach, but learning through play, building, problem solving, interpersonal skills, sports, art, music, with less emphasis on literacy as the objective, and more emphasis on simply igniting a spark – a love of learning, that can stay with the child for life.
It was perfect. Well, nearly perfect. We felt that the Finns had it almost right. Our Global Academic Director, a 30 year education veteran with a Masters in Education had been using the latest “direct instruction methodology” in Canada with very promising results. And we wondered how we could take the best of what Finland was doing, and make it better by adding this approach. So we painstakingly developed a whole new curriculum inspired by Finland, (in English of course), but with this new methodology, and some additions to the curriculum which we felt were important – and would bring it right up to 2015, with everything we know now as educators.
And so Kipina (which means “the spark” in Finnish) was born. Now all we had to do was prove that there is a market for our unique curriculum in a world that is saturated with Montessori and EYFS style nursery schools. There is only one way to prove a concept. Nothing works until it works. So we opened our first Kipina nursery in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. A nursery inspired by Finland, with programs in English, in an Arab country, full of expats from all over the world – truly a global crossroad of languages, cultures and the wonderful diversity that humanity has.
And then something wonderful happened. After only 4 weeks of marketing we had already admitted 30 children. And a year later the nursery was full. Filled with Emerati and expat kids, speaking several different languages, but all united in learning at Kipina.
Science and Research
It’s not just the in classroom approach to teaching kids and babies, Kipina also differs from some early learning centres philosophically. Like the Finns we believe that learning begins at birth and we start children from 4 months of age.
Here are some links you’ll find interesting:
International and US styles of education
Kipina Nursery School Franchise
- Education is a recession resistant business.
- Expected annual returns exceed 30% for a good nursery school.
- A cash in advance business with no bad debts and easy cash-flow management
- No academic experience required to set up or manage the business.
- Make a respectable contribution to society while being an entrepreneur.
- Children can progress from 4 months old to 4 years old – so each child represents up to 4 years of revenue.
- Supporting parents and children is a very fulfilling lifestyle
- Nurseries are needed in all residential communities, and even in large workplaces
- With a good franchise you get great systems that work, start-up help, and ongoing support along with regular upgrades to the systems, the curriculum and the programs. You don’t have to do it alone.
What we offer franchisees
We’ve done the hard work; the specialist education research, developed the curriculum, lesson plans and academic structure; the design, fit-out, style guides; the marketing, advertising and PR templates; developed the additional income streams through enrichment programs, summer and winter camps; designed the management software and mobile apps; institutionalised training of teachers, and so much more. Last time we counted there were over a hundred ways we help franchisees get started and make a successful business. Here’s an overview of the ten key areas:
- Academic Program (Curriculum, Lesson Plans)
- Employee Documents and Policies (handbook, contracts, policies, templates)
- Admissions (guide, registrations, strategy, competitive analysis)
- Operational Documents and Templates (everything from HR, Digital Storage, Emergency plans)
- Nursery Management Software (all you will ever need to lighten the admin side)
- PR & Marketing (online resources with templates for campaigns and ads that you can edit)
- Website and Email services (website hosting, backup, SEO and email admin)
- Design & Equipment (floorpans, layouts, evacuation charts, detailed procurement for furniture and fit out)
- Financial Planning (budgets, cashflow)
- Live Online Resources (across all areas, continuously updated)
The Kipina founders represent very complimentary skill sets. Three of them have wide experience in the education sector, one as a thought leader and veteran educator, two others who have opened and managed schools and universities in the GCC, and licensed education brands. Our fourth founder holds an MBA from Yale and 20 years of corporate business experience.
Together, this dynamic and highly motivated team of professionals not only founded Kipina, but continue to own and operate our own nurseries in the UAE, so they are always in touch with reality on the ground.
Cathy McCauley – Academic Director
Passionate 30 year career educator, Cathy led the global research and the expertise to create Kipina fueled by her own creative purpose to create an early years program that could transform young people. Cathy is passionate about the limitless potential of young people at any age and stage. She is responsible for the development of the Kipina program, training, auditing, and mentoring teachers and principals. With a Bachelors of Education Degree and a Master of Arts in Educational Studies and Organizational Leadership, Cathy has 30 years’ experience in roles such as classroom teacher, Vice-Principal, and Principal. She continues to support learning for educators in her current role as the Executive Director for the Calgary Regional Consortium. She is affiliated with the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, Learning Forward (National Staff Development Council), The Alberta Association of Public Charter Schools and the College of Alberta School Superintendents (CASS).
Lynn Brucker – Director
Kipina was born because of Lynn’s experiences building a variety of schools and living and working in the Middle East for the past 12 years and her passion for wanting to give back. The current state of the global education sector propelled her to tap into her own innovative nature and engage like-minded people, to come together, with their different skill sets and create a brand new approach to early year’s education. Her mission is to create curious, creative, confident independent learners that will become a new generation of innovators and entrepreneurs. Her goal is to make Kipina a global brand and to reach as many young people with it around the world as possible. Lynn has over 25 years of experience in Canada, Asia Pacific and MENA in international consulting. Lynn has spent the past 10 years in the education sector and has supported several educational start-up programs from universities, colleges, vocational training and K-12 schools.
Kieran Galvin – Director
Kieran co-founded Kipina and developed the brand collaterals. The Kipina franchise was developed because of Kieran’s experience in licensing and packaging education. An entrepreneurial leader, builder and proven manager Kieran has more than 25 years of business experience. With C-level and board level roles for 15 years, Kieran’s experience ranges from high value commercial property brokerage to raising capital for unlisted trusts, to film and animation development and production, brand development and launching for the tech sector and the education sector. He was also responsible for managing and licensing the Middle East territories for SAE master-licensor Luminus Group. SAE is the world’s largest media training institute with more than 60 campuses worldwide.
Ali Irfan – Director
Kipina’s growth in the UAE is attributed to Ali, who was the first investor in the concept of Kipina. With an MBA from Yale an undergraduate degree from Wharton and many successful years in the corporate world, Ali felt a strong call back to his roots in entrepreneurship after the birth of his son Shershah. Ali’s mission was to invest in education enterprises with a unique proposition coupled with high returns. He spent a couple of years studying the market in the UAE and the various education providers and decided to partner with Kipina’s founders to build Kipina’s across the globe. Ali has 18 years’ experience mostly in senior management positions for globally renowned Telecommunications-Media- Technology firms and has previously worked as a strategy consultant in the US market. He is an entrepreneur at heart and has proven expertise in New Business Development, Corporate Strategy, and has successfully managed P&L’s valued at over $50 Million.
Spirit, tenacity, and commitment are the most important attributes. We look for people with a positive outlook who want to change the (education) world and make a major contribution to their communities. The kind of people who like to make money, but like to sleep well at night knowing that they are doing something that will benefit generations to come.
But owning a business takes more than spirit. There will be ups and downs. Good days and bad days. Days when things go wrong, when teachers quit, when kids are sick, when bureaucracy seems a little crazy. So tenacity is important. It can often be the most important thing, because with enough perseverance, owning a profitable nursery is easily achievable, but it takes time.
And consistency – with a commitment to following programs, using templates, being transparent and sharing information for the benefit of all licensees.
As you can see, we look for personal attributes. Your management or professional background is less important, as is your own academic background (unless you plan to teach of course). Because with our training, support, systems and audits, we can help people with the right attitude succeed.
Obviously you need access to capital to get started. The amount can vary a lot depending on which city and country you plan to open your Kipina nursery in. But as a rule of thumb you will need approximately $200,000 to $500,000 to open a nursery that can look after around 70-100 kids.