A group of 16 year olds at the Aga Khan Academy
Mombasa is now three years into running their own business -
launched following the students’ Year 10 Entrepreneurship Class
- in the form of a locally sourced Tuck Shop that is donating
its profits to environmental conservation.
The success of the business, which
defies national and international trends on first business
failures, is evidence that entrepreneurship training within
schools can transform students’ capabilities to deliver
financial success and a positive social impact.
“The idea began when students realized
there was no shop in the school to cater to student needs
and wrote a proposal to the school describing everything
they needed for it to be set up.
“The Tuck Shop operates like a
company, with the students managing sales, supplies, labour
and all other activities, “said Jackson Ligaga, the teacher
in charge of the Tuck Shop and Head of Department,
Expressive Arts and Technology at Aga Khan Academy Mombasa.
The project’s business approach is
equipping students for their own career launches, with majority
of youth in Kenya, and globally, now moving towards starting
their own businesses.
A University of Phoenix survey in 2013
found that of 1,600 adults surveyed, 63 per cent of those in
their 20s either owned their own businesses or wanted to. Of
those who were not already entrepreneurs, 55 per cent hoped to
be in future.
Yet evidence shows that 80 per cent of
startup businesses collapse within the first 18 months, with the
failure caused by a lack of knowledge about the business world.
“The Year 10 Entrepreneurship Course
has enabled students to be innovative, think critically, and
understand the concepts that go into operating a successful
business, showing the importance of having such related
courses in schools,” said Mr Ligaga.
The Tuck Shop now runs during the
school’s break times, from 10.40am, 1.00pm and 3pm, selling
snacks that include milkshakes, fruit juices, and ice creams.
“Wednesday morning break is the
craziest day for us, when we sell ice cream.
“Unfortunately, it runs out quickly,
frustrating so many students who want to cool themselves off
from the fierce Mombasa heat, but the local “Roys” cake is
also very popular, because of its delicious chocolate
topping,” said Alykhan Jiwa, 16, an International
Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma student and CEO of the Tuck Shop
“We also have a passion for community
service, and that is why we identified a student-run club in
AKA Mombasa involved in environmental conservation and
funded it from the profits we make from the Tuck Shop,” said
The business has also taken a unique
approach to sourcing its products.
Many businesses opt to source from
large and known supplier brands to ensure credible and reliable
But the Aga Khan Academy Mombasa
students have opted to promote small business owners as their
“We are aware of the struggle small
businesses go through and our goal in the Tuck Shop is to
help them grow by buying their products. However, we ensure
they meet the right legal, hygiene and sanitation
standards,” said Jiwa.
The team of young entrepreneurs has,
however, had to handle some tough confrontational situations in
running the business.
“Last year, a local supplier delivered
brownies that we sell for Sh 60, but they were small in
size. Students complained and said they felt exploited by
the management of the Tuck Shop.
“It took us a lot of back and forth
communication assuring them this was not a trend, and
warning the supplier that if this wasn’t rectified, we would
drop them and get someone else,” said Jiwa.
The young management team has also had
to understand the laws that apply to a company and its goods,
and achieve prompt payments to suppliers and the timely delivery
Jiwa recalls a time last year when the
ice cream that had been delivered fermented and could not be
sold, causing a heavy loss for the business: she managed to
convince the students to buy other snacks to balance out the
“Being given the position at the Tuck
Shop has made me a better thinker, more assertive and better
at problem solving,” said Mariella Monyo, 16, an IB Diploma
student and the Tuck Shop Human Resource Manager.
The team also continues to incorporate
new ideas in the Tuck Shop. “We introduced sessions where
students can watch football at the Tuck Shop.
“We created a mini stadium where
students gather around the TV and watch popular matches
while purchasing our products. We also conduct surveys to
ensure we know whether the customers are satisfied,” said
The Tuck Shop management experience is
also helping students with university entry.
“The management of the Tuck Shop is an
addition to the students’ academic portfolio, bearing in
mind that the experience equips them with leadership, time
management, critical thinking and community service skills,
therefore giving the students better opportunities at top
universities globally,” said Ligaga.
The students believe likewise: “The
entrepreneurial and life skills the Tuck Shop has given me
will make me better at managing my own business, by setting
objectives and focusing on meeting them, than I would have
been without this experience or training,” said Monyo.