Felista Muthoki Mutinda is the founder and managing director of St Bakhita School boasting a kindergarten, primary school and junior secondary school.
The 52-year-old established the school over two decades ago after giving up on her career in banking.
Felista started her school from a rented apartment in South B, Nairobi County after convincing her sister to move out.
Here is her story as told by WoK.
In an interview with Nation, Felista noted that she sought to set up a learning institution in order to build a connection between schools and parents.
Her main aim, she explained, was to set up a school that focused on an all-rounded growth of a child and organise workshops for parents.
“I didn’t see regular schools doing what I thought should be done. There was a huge disconnection between schools and parents,” Felista said.
The then mother of two young children also shared an encounter that saw her quit her banking job to focus on setting up her school.
“It was busy day at work and I was late to pick up my two children from school. As I drove towards their school, two young boys in a school uniform caught my gaze. They were waiting for a matatu at a bus stop,” she shared.
“A flicker of outrage towards their parents ignited within me and I wondered why they’d let such young children board a matatu without company. When I gave them another gaze, I realized they were my children. The guards hadn’t notice them leave the school compound.”
Following this experience, Felista had started looking for a space to set up a kindergarten a few months later.
While she credits the success of her school to location and the niche, she also noted that research and attending workshops were a contributing factors.
“Everyone around me thought I was making a mistake by shelving my career of 14 years to go into the murky waters o entrepreneurship,” she said.
After hunting for a space for a while, Felista convinced her sister to move out of her rented apartment in South B where she set up a kindergarten.
Over the years, the school grew and blossomed into a fully-fledged institution offering 8-4-4 system and competency-based curriculum (CBC).
“I was specific that I wanted to work with foundation years because I believe that the formative years are very important to the well-being of a child,” she said.
Today, the school has an employee-base of 328 and over 1,200 students spread across their two primary schools and two kindergartens.
“…we are set apart by three critical things. First, the passion that we have for learners, our quality of teaching and quality of teaching and passionate teachers,” Felista said.
In 2020, Fanisi Capital, a private equity firm, acquired minority stake in St Bakhita Schools valued Ksh 265 million.
Felista explained that the move was in alignment with the school’s growth strategy.
“We cannot have a business with only the visionary person running it. The investors came in for growth purposes, funding and professionalism and technical skills
“Further, I wanted a board that could hold me accountable and a proper succession plan. The investors, however, needed to be aligned with our vision,” she explained.
Fanisi Capital’s managing partner, Ayisi Makatiani on the other hand said the schools fit within their investment strategy, which aims to invest in ambitious entrepreneurs providing high quality education.
“Education is a core sector for Fanisi because it’s the bedrock of growth of any economy. Together with Felista Mutinda, the school’s founder, we are looking at building a network of schools across the region and we are excited about this prospect,” Ayisi said.