Entrepreneurship is about solving real problems that people face in their lives. The more difficult the problems you can solve, the greater the rewards you’ll get from the market. Africa’s nanny problem is one of those huge problems that parents across the continent are desperate to solve.
Nannies take care of children and provide this very important service in many homes around the world. The problem is, in most parts of Africa, the nanny service is largely informal, unregulated and low quality. As a result, nannies now constitute one of the biggest sources of security dangers in the homes they live in and the children they are hired to care for.
In this article, we’ll take a deep look into the seriousness of the nanny problems in Africa. We’ll also see why the demand for nanny services is huge and growing on the continent, and howsmart entrepreneurs can create innovative solutions to these problems and build viable businesses out of them.
This is a very detailed, and well-researched article. I’m sure you’ll love it!
Shocking Events That Reveal The Ugly Nature Of The Nanny Problem Across Africa
In recent years, social media and modern technology have helped to expose the physical, psychological and sexual abuses that many children suffer in the hands of nannies.
Over the last 12 months, two particular nanny incidents in Uganda and Nigeria went viral on the internet and continue to shock Africa and the world. In this section, I’ll share short videos and summaries of these events which have exposed the ugly side of the nanny problem and the urgent need to tackle this issue that is widespread across Africa.
Uganda – Jolly Tumuhiirwe, the vicious nanny
Sometime last year (2014), Jolly Tumuhiirwe, a nanny in a Ugandan household was caught on a hidden camera as she viciously beat, kicked and stomped on the 18-month old toddler she was hired to take care of.
Luckily for the parents of the child, the nanny was found out. Can you imagine the extent of physical and psychological damage this toddler may suffer for the rest of her life?
Fortunately, justice was served and the nanny has been sentenced to four years in prison. However, this incident has amplified the seriousness of the nanny problem in Africa and increased the desperation of parents who want professional childcare for their children.
Nigeria – Funmilayo Adeyemi, The Kidnapper Nanny
In March 2015, Funmilayo, a newly hired nanny, kidnapped three kids, including an 11-month baby from their home in Lagos, Nigeria. For the next couple of days, the Orekoya household was severely traumatized as the kidnappers demanded a ransom of 13 million Naira (about $80,000) from the parents.
The manhunt for the nanny and children paid off as the police finally busted the kidnapping syndicate, of which the nanny, her husband and in-laws were accomplished criminals. Thankfully, all three children were recovered in good health but there’s no telling the extent of psychological harm they have, and may continue to suffer.
The Orekoya household unwittingly allowed a vicious criminal and kidnapper into their household. Unfortunately, this is a common mistake that many ‘working class’ parents still make.
Why Is There A Huge and Growing Demand For Nannies Across Africa?
Despite the serious security threats that nannies now represent, it’s a surprise that the demand for nannies is still huge, especially in the big cities across Africa. How come? Here are three major factors that are responsible for the high demand.
1. There are more working mothers in the cities
Back in the day, most mothers used to sit back at home and take care of the children while daddy was the ‘sole breadwinner’. Today, the era of the ‘full-time housewife’ is almost gone. To increase household income and provide additional financial support for the family, more urban African women are now job-employed or self-employed.
City life often means that in many common cases, mothers who work at day jobs have to leave their children early in the morning and may not return until late in the evening. Many of these mothers have children who are as young as 6 months old.
So, mothers who do not have a close and trusted family relative to help them with childcare often have to look outside for help. This category of mothers are very likely to hire commercial nannies to look after their children. It can be very risky to leave young children in the care of ‘strangers’ but most families simply do not have any other options.
2. Africa’s middle class population is in rapid growth
The middle class is the single largest source of demand for nannies in Africa. Poor households are unlikely to afford a commercial nanny service.
According to a Deloitte research report, Africa’s middle class population has tripled over the last 30 years and may reach 1.1 billion people by 2060. Middle class households often have two working parents who may be educated and work at a job or owned business. These households typically spend between $60 and $600 on household and living expenses per month, and can afford to pay for convenience services like nannies.
As the middle class segment of Africa’s population continues to grow, it’s expected that the demand for commercial nannies will remain huge and continue to increase across the major cities.
3. Nannies provide convenience and flexibility
For anyone reading this article who has had any kind of experience with young children, you would know that taking care of kids can be a challenging full-time job. Even ‘full-time housewives’ still need some help with children so they can get other things done.
Although commercial nannies may pose a huge security threat, it’s difficult to ignore the convenience, flexibility and comfort in the service they provide to many households. It’s common for nannies to help with other chores in the home like cleaning and cooking. These too go a long way to help young mothers who have to deal with the pressures of work and family.
To Solve The Nanny Problem, You Need To Know These Three Pains…
During my research for this article, I was curious to know what parents thought about the whole commercial nanny situation. From the responses I got, many of the people I talked to were most concerned about the following issues.
Tip: You need to pay close attention to these ‘pains’ because most parents are willing to pay money to make them go away. There’s money to be made by entrepreneurs who can solve these pains. Here they are:
- Identification & Character – Parents would like to know the true identity and character of the nannies they hire. In many parts of Africa, most people still don’t have a full, proper and trusted means of identification. So, when things go wrong, it can be very difficult to find a rogue nanny if she disappears with the kids. Like the case of the Orekoya family in Nigeria, the nanny presented a fake name and ID. This made it possible for her to successfully kidnap the kids and evade detection for several days.
- Quality of Care – Parents are concerned about the quality of care their kids get from the nanny in their absence. Most nannies on the continent do not have any kind of formal training in child care. Without training and childcare knowledge, it’s no surprise that some nannies cause physical, psychological and sexual harm to the children they care for.
- Fear – Parents want to be assured that their children are treated well in their absence. Cases like Jolly Tumuhiirwe, the vicious Ugandan nanny who brutalized the 18-month old child in her care caused a panic in many families. Parents want to know for a fact that their kids never suffer this sort of abuse when they are away from the home. (photo credit: herzimbabwe.co.zw)
Now that we know the biggest pains, problems and challenges that many African middle class families are having with the commercial nanny service, it’s time to look at a few ideas and opportunities that could make money in this market.
Four Interesting Business Opportunities in Africa’s Commercial Nanny Market
How much do you think any parent will pay to ensure safety, security and quality care for their children? The truth is, as long as the price is reasonable, many parents are willing to pay a premium to get the best care and treatment for their kids.
In this section, I’ll share with you four interesting business opportunities you can exploit in the current commercial nanny market.
1. Professional Nanny Recruitment Services
For most parents, finding the right nanny is a huge challenge. In the current market, most people find nannies via informal sources (through friends, family, neighbours and colleagues). There are also a few ‘nanny agents’ who can help with finding a nanny.
While these sources can help families find ‘any’ nanny, the real challenge is finding the ‘right’ nanny with the right character, knowledge and skills to properly take care of their children. This type of professional recruitment service is still lacking on the continent.
What if there was a professional nanny service that hires suitable people for the nanny job? This service could properly recruit and identify potential nannies (including full identity documentation and background checks) and give them a few weeks of intensive childcare training that would cover all the major aspects of taking care of children.
You could make money by charging an upfront recruitment or ‘finder’s’ fee or you could just take an agency or management fee percentage from the nanny’s monthly pay.
Do you think parents will pay for a verified and trained professional nanny over a random nanny some friend found for them? The answer looks very obvious to me.
2. Nanny Training School
You may not even need to go the full recruitment route. What if you had a school for training professional nannies? I’ve never heard of that one before. Nurses and midwifes have training schools, even chefs have training schools, so why not nannies?
For a modest fee, you could offer short courses to people who want to enter the nanny services industry. Don’t forget, nanny services are highly demanded like I mentioned earlier, and has the potential to provide temporary and permanent employment to thousands of Africans.
Through training, prospective nannies could be taught the importance of their roles in the lives of the young children they care for. Topics like ethics, child safety, nutrition, medical emergencies, hygiene and professional etiquette and conduct are some of the major courses that will provide the right orientation and skills for people in the nanny profession. (image credit: hopca.com)
If you provide effective training solutions, it may only be a matter of time before parents and childcare organisations knock on your door to hire your most qualified students.
3. Creche & Daycare Centres
Instead of hiring a full-time commercial nanny, more parents are choosing to keep their children in crèches and daycare centres. Most of these centres are open from the early mornings to late evenings and have become ideal for working mothers who work at day jobs from Mondays to Fridays and stay at home during weekends.
Most daycare centres are located within residential areas (where working mothers live) or around commercial/office areas (where working mothers work). This proximity and convenience makes daycare services more appealing to families who want more professional care for their children.
Interestingly, I wrote a detailed article some time ago about the Creche and Daycare Service business. It’s become quite popular on Smallstarter.com because it’s packed with all the information you’ll need to get started with this business if you’re interested. You can read the full article by clicking here.
4. Home Surveillance Solutions
Without the help of a hidden camera in the living room of their home, it may have been impossible to discover the shocking brutality of the vicious Ugandan nanny.
With advances in modern technology, it is now possible to choose from a very wide range of small and deceptive surveillance devices to capture pictures, video or audio of happenings in your home. Some of these devices can be accessed remotely. So, from their offices or outside locations, parents can actually watch or listen to events that happen in their homes when they’re not around. Awesome!
Most of these systems are affordable and you could set up a business that specifically targets parents who have vulnerable kids at home. You could sell, install, troubleshoot and maintain home surveillance systems in high-risk areas of your clients’ homes.
In fact, you may not need to set up a physical shop to get going with this idea. Using the smart marketing tips in this Facebook Marketing article I wrote sometime ago, you can specifically target the demographic of young mothers who may be having nanny problems.
My Final Thoughts…
Image credit: georgiavoices.com
The nanny problem has a strong emotional dimension in the way it affects parents who need nanny services. Childcare is a very sensitive job that requires only people who are professional, skilled and passionate about children. Because, the devastating effects of child neglect, psychological torture, physical and sexual abuse can last for a lifetime and may damage the child forever.
I wrote this article to spark a debate about the terrible state of the unregulated, informal and low quality nanny services industry in Africa. As a strong believer in entrepreneurship, I hold the opinion that we can solve Africa’s serious nanny problem and still make money from it. It’s a win-win for everyone!