Exploring Enterprise Helps Mumpreneur Realise her Dream of Starting up a Daycare Nursery in Articlave

Lots of women will relate to the story of Danielle caldwell, mum of 2; who pressed pause on her career to have a family only to discover that returning to work would prove almost impossible. Danielle, an IT Technician, fluent in both French and Arabic had enjoyed a career in a French speaking call centre in Belfast when she moved from Morocco to Coleraine prior to the birth of her 2 children. However following maternity leave she found the commute, long hours, lack of childcare and absence of family support meant that she could no longer work in Belfast and needed to find something closer to home.

Danielle faced a number of challenges in her job hunt – her qualifications were not recognised in NI, she spoke very little English and her marriage had broken down, which severely hampered her options.

Not to be discouraged Danielle set about studying for her GCSE’s and learning English. She also volunteered at her son’s school and attended night classes in an NVQ Teaching Assistant qualification. It was during this time that Danielle had her light bulb moment. Although she had initially volunteered at the school to help her to understand the education system here so she could help her kids with their homework, she soon discovered that she loved working with children and realised that this could be the new career. .Over the next few years Danielle worked tirelessly to gain experience and qualifications in childcare, she volunteered at Sandleford, Physitots and Castlerock playgroup, achieved an OCR in word processing, an NVQ level 3 in Childcare and a qualification in Community Interpreting. She also set up “IPOPs” a group for International Parents of Pre-Schoolers to support foreign parents and their children who had moved to the Coleraine area and she achieved all this while working from home as a translator to support her young family.

Danielle says “I remember thinking – I love working with kids and I’ve always wanted my own business so maybe I could set up my own childcare facility. I had one further problem though, I knew nothing about running a business and that’s when I saw the ad in the newspaper for Exploring Enterprise. Alongside the ad was a story about a woman who attended the course and went on to start her business, this really inspired me and I contacted Causeway Enterprise Agency immediately to enrol on the course. The tutor Anna was amazing and the course let me see that my idea could work. The staff there also helped me to develop my business plan through the Go For It programme and then helped me write an application for the ENI loan fund to help me finance me idea and now it’s real, I have my dream, I have just opened my doors this month and I am so very happy and excited about the future.”

Danielle’s business “Articlave Day Care Nursery” has breathed new life into at a long time vacant property in Articlave. The building had been on the market since 2009 since it had ceased to operate as Nursery which made it the perfect premises for Danielle.  The facility offers full time childcare from infant up to 11 years as well as school drop off and collection and holiday care. Danielle is also planning to work with dance and yoga instructors to offer evening classes to children and encourages anyone offering these activities to get in touch..

With up to 65 places available Danielle’s next challenge is filling the facility with children which given its location, fantastic facilities and extensive outdoor space should not be problem. Not only has Danielle breathed new life into an empty building, she has also created 3 new jobs with the potential of creating a further 13 jobs when the number of children attending grows to capacity.