Optimalpath Consulting Ltd
My business exists to develop literacy skills of English as Second Language (ESL) users in the UK and in countries where English is used as a second language.
In the UK, we offer consultancy services to charities, government agencies and institutions of higher learning who wish to implement literacy projects in the contexts described. We also collaborate with publishers in testing suitability and acceptability of their resources in the settings where we carry out our work. Our key offers include research, teacher development, curriculum planning, project implementation, monitoring and evaluation.
In other countries, we work with government and education policy makers on curriculum change from the traditional method of teaching common to most ESL countries to the synthetic phonics method. This is a method which has been proven by research and usage as a fast and fun method of teaching beginners to read and write English. We set up teacher training in this method, provide tool kits to enhance teacher and learner skills, monitor the implementation of the curricular change, set up evaluation process and write reports for the government and other stakeholders.
What made you decide to start your own business?
I have been active in promoting literacy programmes and running charities. I have also managed projects of great financial layout and huge reach. I thought I could turn this into a business which will continue to benefit society and also provide financial benefits to me.
I am motivated to help equip as many people as I can with literacy skills. A business which achieves this and also provides financial benefit would give me long term job satisfaction.
Tell us about your journey so far
The journey so far has been worthwhile. I have developed a strong network with many top education policy makers in Nigeria, publishers, businesses and charity organisations who share similar passion for reaching people with literacy skills, and academic institutions. I have become known and recognised for my skills and my services are in demand in many countries already.
It is often challenging breaking through the bureaucratic process of reaching the people at the top. I used to think this was not my area of strength but when I needed to reach them, I gave myself no choice. I just pushed on until I reached the people I wanted. I have also seen teachers who had no clue about how to help their pupils learn to read and write become skilled at doing so. Teachers teach with confidence, learners become accomplished readers, all are happy. This brings me a sense of achievement.
What impact have you achieved?
Over 10,000 teachers have received our synthetic phonics method training to date and this has benefitted over 1 million school children.
We were recently successful with our campaign for full adoption of this method in three states in Nigeria. This means training more than another 10,000 teachers in the first half of 2016. In addition to this we expanding our services into Ghana where we are setting up a pilot schemes in six schools.
We have published a handbook to help teachers use synthetic phonics method and we are in the process of publishing about 20 story books which will enhance learners’ English literacy skills.
In 2015, I won the Newcastle University Pride Entrepreneur of the Year award, and also the Vice Chancellors' award.
In the immediate future, we plan to publish much needed textbooks for teaching using the synthetic phonics method. We will launch an intervention for older struggling readers. In the long term, our business has a global perspective so we will provide training and other services to many more countries by developing our online kits and by physical presence when so required.
What is your key tip setting up a business?
Do not focus on the obstacles but on the ways to overcome the obstacles. Be creative in tackling challenges; if one way does not work, try another. Do not wonder if you can make it; just do it. Be principled, do not waver around opinions. Take advice, use advice, and stay focused!
How was your experience of working with Rise Up?
My experience with Rise Up has taught me to focus on the best possible financial outcomes for the business while at the same time never losing sight of our goals for society.
Working with Rise Up has helped me to develop a business model that is a good blend of service to the community and at the same time, a family business.
Olubusola Eshiet,Optimalpath Consulting Ltd
Course: PhD ECLS
Business Start Date: 4 May 2014
No. Employees: One