Franchisee Name: Jillian Hortense
Centre Name: Hamptons Nursery, Creche & Preschool
Location: Eldorado Park, Johannesburg, South Africa.
Meet Jillian Hortense, the Principal of Hamptons Nursery, Creche & Preschool in Eldorado Park. She first discovered her love of working with children when she became a Sunday school teacher at her grandmother’s church at the age of 15 – and her love for children had never changed.
After school, a lack of funds for studying further meant that she started her working career as a cashier. She went on to be a Seaman in the South African Navy and then moved into the banking sector where she worked for a number of years. But through the years, her dream of working with children remained, and it was this passion that led her to study early childhood development part-time while still working in the banking sector. She attended classes on Saturdays and went on to achieve her NQF level 4 and NQF level 5 qualifications.
Jillian’s sister Tramaine joined her in furthering her studies and together they started Hamptons Nursery, Creche & Preschool to care for children in their community. The sisters believe that charity begins at home, and through Hamptons, they are actively working towards change and impacting their surroundings in a positive way.
Of course, there have been challenges along the way, but the partnership with GROW Educare has helped them to make their dreams a reality.
Life before GROW was very challenging
“Life before GROW was very challenging,” says Jillian, “as my sister and I were looking for a sound curriculum and education to be able to implement with the youngsters. When GROW came along, they came along with a very good curriculum as well as additional funds to help us kickstart our centre with the necessary things that we needed. Like the bathroom needed to be done, and we needed to install ceilings and floorings. So, we have been blessed to be able to do that all at once, which brought our Centre up to the standard that we, as well as the parents, wanted the Centre to meet.”
Eldorado park has many types of families
The Centre caters to a mix of families, a number of whom receive social grants. Operating in Eldorado Park with limited resources can be a challenge but despite this, Jillian is determined to provide the best service possible for all the children who attend the day-care centre.
As she explains, “What we said that we would like to do is to bring a model C standard into our local community. So we don’t take any short cuts on the education that we give – on the learning material that we offer our children that we have through GROW, as well as the nutritional part of it, we do not compromise at all.”
The GROW curriculum works
She particularly appreciates how the GROW Educare curriculum supports the well-rounded development of children. “It covers every aspect in life,” she says, “Be it mentally, physically, emotionally. It focuses on the children holistically. They have taken nothing out, they’ve covered all the bases to ensure that every child is ready for the school environment as well as the home environment.” Jillian feels that having found this programme, they are able to break through barriers to bring the quality of the private schooling system to the children in their local community, without charging exorbitant schools fees.
On a personal level, Jillian says the partnership with GROW Educare has helped her to become calmer and more focused. The mentors at GROW have assisted Jillian and her educators tremendously, providing guidance and keeping them accountable every step of the way, whether on financial management or encouraging them to strive for the goals that they have set for the centre and where they would like to see themselves in a few years’ time.
This sense of real partnership has been particularly valuable as the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown became clear.
“Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic where it seemed everything was stagnant and everything was just falling apart, and that the future for ECDs looks very grim, it gives us hope that there is a tomorrow, that we can push through,” says Jillian. “Every day, one step at a time, one child at a time, changing one life at a time, making that impact.”
“Even with regards to the vouchers that we have been sponsored with, it has helped us in so many ways – they can’t imagine what impact it has made in our lives,” she explains. “It has helped us through, it helped us push through. The partners that we have, care. It’s not just a franchise fee that goes off at the end of the month. It’s that our partners care and we’re holding hands through this walk of life”.
Jillian and her team achieved a significant milestone when the centre was successful in receiving their consent in November 2019, just before schools closed for the year. While they faced some challenges early in 2020, things were just getting back on an even keel when the nationwide lockdown hit in March. They are still working on their approvals process, but Jillian has big dreams for the future of Hamptons and the children and families of her community.
This small-business women has big dreams for the future
“The dream is that within the next year or two, we should be a fully compliant ECD running with fully qualified teachers and assistants. My dream – and my hope – is to convert my entire residence into a daycare…that’s how big I would like to see myself and Hamptons Day-care grow so that we can accommodate over 150 children. For us to be able to feed them: feed their minds, feed their bodies. And for us to employ many more women and men who have a passion for early childhood development, that are just afraid or haven’t had the courage to take the baton from the past teachers…let’s run this race!”
Her advice to other women in business:
Jillian’s advice to other women who want to run a business draws on Proverbs 31:
Seek wisdom, be honest, keep service, be faithful, be disciplined, be virtuous, stay strong, seek the lord, stay humble, stay diligent, live stewardship, be self-controlled.