Sowing the seeds of future success

As a busy working mother with a passion for education and an entrepreneurial streak, Vandana Gandhi, founder and chief executive of British Orchard Nursery (BON), believes in creating stimulating surroundings and interesting concepts for young minds.

"I had certain ideas, a vision that I wanted to implement in the educational sector, and the best way to demonstrate that was through example," she says.

Founded in 2007, BON is one of the Middle East's largest nursery chains with 16 branches. It follows the British National Early Years Curriculum guidelines, focusing on developing early years' education through an in-depth planning programme.

 

As a busy working mother with a passion for education and an entrepreneurial streak, Vandana Gandhi, founder and chief executive of British Orchard Nursery (BON), believes in creating stimulating surroundings and interesting concepts for young minds.

"I had certain ideas, a vision that I wanted to implement in the educational sector, and the best way to demonstrate that was through example," she says.

Founded in 2007, BON is one of the Middle East's largest nursery chains with 16 branches. It follows the British National Early Years Curriculum guidelines, focusing on developing early years' education through an in-depth planning programme.

"We set high standards of care and follow international best practices, implementing Quality Management Systems such as European Foundation for Quality Management Model, Balance Scorecard for quality HR management, and adhering to ISO quality, environment and health and safety standards to provide the best possible services in our nursery," she says.

"We set high standards of care and follow international best practices, implementing Quality Management Systems such as European Foundation for Quality Management Model, Balance Scorecard for quality HR management, and adhering to ISO quality, environment and health and safety standards to provide the best possible services in our nursery," she says.

"Being a working mother myself, I knew how difficult it was to manage a full-time career with children. That's why I implemented longer hours for working parents with the Apple's Plus programme.

With a Master's degree in Education with distinction, Vandana is also committed to making a difference in the society by ensuring that the children at her nursery grow as competent and confident learners.

"The use of technology in classrooms will help in developing digital literacy in children, which is vital during the digital age considering book handling skills have been replaced by digital literacy to a great extent," Vandana says.

"We use technology as often as appropriate in the classroom in the form of smart boards, tablets, cameras, CD players and the reinforcement of concepts through audio-visual aids. We have a research and development team who is dedicated to staying abreast of new technologies and ideas and their application in the classroom setting," she says.

Vibrant environment

Vandana says the UAE offers a vibrant and an encouraging environment for entrepreneurs.

"We see people from across the world coming to the UAE and setting up small and medium businesses here and prospering. The government, too, takes keen interest in developing the SMEs sector," she says.

"In terms of mentors and funding, I believe there is no dearth of guidance and assistance besides several avenues that one can explore if one wants to own a start up here. As for the size of market, the fact that an increasing number of people are settling here, gives a sense of reassurance that the market will continue to grow. Also, the legal framework for startups is conducive to budding entrepreneurship," Vandana says.

She says some of the strongest points of the UAE's start-up ecosystem is the regulatory environment as well as the strong open door policy at government offices.

"The UAE also has a culture of innovation and a 'can do' attitude which spread across locals and expatriates alike," she says.

However, she says, there are some of the challenges such as the transient nature of the multicultural expatriate community in the UAE, which makes it just a little harder to recruit and retain manpower.

"Catering to children of different nationalities and cultures is an added challenge in the field of childcare services. The industry is unique, as the sensitivity of customers (parents) and the end-product (the children's learning) is extremely complex. Early Years' education poses a far greater challenge owing to the tender age of the children. The mindset of parents, past schooling and cultural learning, nuclear family environments, multi lingual, and multi religious facets of a varied ethnic population creates added hurdles in this dynamic field, which involves layers of human interface," she says.

Vandana urges entrepreneurs to set up a strong vision, mission, and values statement and follow it through.

"At BON, we have established values of respect and integrity; equality and diversity, rights and responsibilities; and improvement and innovation; which help our vision to be a leader in nursery education, providing high quality international early years provision through best practice and our mission to sow the seeds of success," she concludes.

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