Building a future

Kowabunga was recently celebrated for its win in not only one but two categories of Brands for Good programme, Workplace: People Development and (2) Environment Managing Environmental Impact categories.

Brands for Good recognises the achievements of forward-looking companies, especially Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) that leads corporate social responsibility (CSR).

Kidz Treehouse is an after school care (student care) programme lovingly developed by Kowabunga! Holdings for children ages 7-12 years old. Being the first ECO-inspired student care in Singapore, KIDZ TREEHOUSE provides a nurturing and caring atmosphere in a structured environment of LEARNING and PLAY. Using NATURE as a learning tool, the programme goes beyond the classroom to appreciate and understand the world around us.

The ECO Student Care spreads environmental awareness as part of the life of our students, teachers and parents. We help children develop a connection to the environment, through both classroom learning and outdoor experience. In today’s era of virtual connectivity, we strongly believe by connecting back with nature, it will nurture positive developments in our children’s characters.

What inspired you to open this business?

As educators, my wife and I noticed brilliant children being labelled as poor performing students because the system did not necessarily cater to their talents and potential. We believe that children hold the key to the future and we felt the strong desire to spread the message that every child is born with the potential to succeed and make a positive difference to the world.

With the birth of our first child, there was a sense of urgency in attempting to make the world a better place for them. Climate change, regional conflicts, environmental degradation and human suffering are some of the issues that we do not want our children to face while growing up. Most importantly, we want them to have a sense of responsibility towards humanity and the environment.

Combining our experience as educators and concerns for our children, the idea of creating an ECO-inspired student care was conceived in 2010. In it we harness children’s positive potential through holistic character development and using nature as their playground.

Alhamdulillah, with the support of amazing staff and partners, the vision of A Peaceful World through Beautiful Character is taking shape.

What sets you apart from other businesses?

Our Amazing People.

Here at the company, we work as a family. There is little or no hierarchy, only different job scopes. In fact our organization chart is inverted, with our teachers being at the top of the tree and one will humbly move ‘down’ as they are promoted and play a more servitude role such as the branch of a tree. Our corporate culture and values enable us to attract amazing individuals who are talented, vibrant and energetic.  

We believe that everyone should come to work happy and that their own family priorities should come before the company’s. Thus it is always important for us to know every individual personally and be aware if they are facing any personal challenges.

As an entrepreneur, what motivates you?

My biggest source of inspiration will be my religion. In it I find answers to my problems and solace in times of difficulties. I believe everyone is placed on earth for a purpose. And once one finds that purpose, it becomes an obligation for us to try our very best to fulfill it.  

Family also plays a huge part in my life. I am blessed to have the constant support of my business partner (my wife) and my parents. My mum taught and reminded me to constantly look for the goodness in everyone. This is one of the valuable lessons I have learnt in my life.

What are the challenges you face?

Just like many other businesses, there are abundant of challenges that one will face in this journey. From errant employees, to failed projects to unsatisfied customers to financial issues and the list goes on.

However, my first and biggest challenge was convincing my parents that entrepreneurship is my passion. I grew up in a traditional family, where we are driven to get good grades, so we can get to good schools, get good jobs and climb the corporate ladder. My loving parents, as any other parents, were very concerned of the instability and uncertainty of setting up a business. Alhamdulillah, over time, as they see the passion and efforts, they have not only accepted but also supported us in our ventures. Their blessings and prayers have been fundamental in the success of our businesses.

What’s your most valuable lesson as a business owner?

“That you don’t build a business. You build people then people build the business.”

As a business owner, it is imperative to get the best people on board the bus and have the capabilities to bring the team together towards a shared lofty vision. One should continuously give everyone the opportunity to grow because a star wants to see itself rise but a true leader wants to see the people around him rise to the top.

What future plans do you have for the business?

We have grown from a company of less than 10 to more than 100 staff in a mere period of 3 years. Thus, we are looking to keep growing at a more sustainable rate and focus much more on developing our core competencies in the next few years.

We plan to elevate the standards of the industry by working with other industry players as well as government agencies and providing comprehensive development training and support to our teachers. We believe in equipping the teachers with the best tools available so as to enable them to provide high quality care and education for our future generation.

What are you most proud of today?

My family. Throughout the ups and downs of the journey, it is essential to have a family to go home to. I’m a proud father of 4 beautiful children and together with my amazing wife, we are trying our very best to raise a happy family while trying to build successful businesses. We hope we can inspire others and to leave this world a much better place for our children.

Image Credit: Berita Harian

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