M & M Daycare: The Growing Business of Growing Happy Children

Meet Meenakshi Mani, the proud owner of M & M Daycare who set about rebuilding her life in 2017 following her divorce. Determined to stand on her own two feet financially, she made the courageous decision to start her own daycare business as a means of survival.

“The happiness I find in the company of children, especially since I don’t have any of my own, motivated me to establish a daycare,” she shared.

Despite initial challenges, including a long period with only three children enrolled and the daunting task of paying $1,200 in monthly rent, she persevered.

“For nearly one and a half years, I struggled, but slowly, as people started knowing about the daycare, the business began to grow,” she said.

Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced her to temporarily shut down her daycare, she reopened the daycare in 2020 under a new name, M & M Daycare.

Today, M & M Daycare, which is located at Lot 2, Ratu Dovi Road in Nadera cares for 30 children full-time and 15 children after school. The daycare is open from 6:30 am to 6:00 pm Monday to Friday to suit the needs of her working clients. Meenakshi employs three female staff members who contribute significantly to the daycare’s success.

Meenakshi came to know about Business Assistance Fiji (BAF) and Business Link Pacific (BLP) through BAF’s Facebook page.

She is one of the recipients of the BLP Business Support Grant and received $3,500. This Grant helped her develop her business, including buying new tables, a grass rug for the children’s area, and an outdoor play center.

Businesses applying for a BLP Business Support Grant must satisfy at least one of five categories: Growth, Innovation, Inclusion, Climate and Finance. Meenakshi satisfied the ‘Inclusion’ Grant category because she is a female business owner. BLP works to support women and other under-served sectors of society to gain employment or enter the SME workforce.

“I’m overwhelmed and very grateful for the Grant I’ve received. The BLP Grant was a game-changer for me. It allowed me to implement plans that would have taken much longer to realize on my own,” she said.

To apply for financial support from BLP, businesses must supply financial statements and a business plan. The purpose of the business plan is to clarify where the business is headed, and how it will get there. Putting ideas into words can be challenging and BAF and BLP assisted Meenakshi with the development of a business plan for her daycare business.

“Having a business plan made me realize how important it is to have these things in place to succeed in the business world,” she said.

Meenakshi’s advice to other Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) is clear: “Keep your paperwork and accounts updated. Even small expenses and earnings should be recorded. This makes it easier to meet the requirements for grants and financial support.” It also makes it easier for business owners to gauge how their business is tracking financially, and to make adjustments as necessary along the way.

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