Esther Opare, Kumon Math & Reading Centres | Canadian Franchise Association

Esther Opare, Kumon Math & Reading Centres

Owning a business has been Esther Opare’s dream since moving to Canada from Ghana in 1995. “Being an immigrant to Canada, my goal in life was to make my parents proud,” says the 30-year-old Kumon Math & Reading instructor and franchisee. “I believed the best way to achieve that was to own my own business.”

For Opare, opening a franchise seemed like the most viable way to achieve her goal. “With a franchise, you don’t have to start from the absolute beginning,” she says, citing Kumon’s proven business model, advertising, computer systems and educational materials. “Everything is already tested and working well. This eliminates so many of the pitfalls inherent in starting a new business.”

She also has a long history with Kumon, having worked at the Kumon Centre she eventually took over for more than 14 years prior to becoming a franchisee. “Once I graduated from University, my aim shifted from being just an employee to learning the business of the franchise.”

With financial help from her father, she was able to take over the franchise earlier this year. Transitioning from employee to owner had its challenges, especially given her age. “I had a few stares from new parents but once they learned about my extensive experience with the centre, they felt comfortable with me,” she says.

As a first-time business owner, Opare appreciates the support she receives from head office. “They give excellent support through field experts who are constantly available to help me succeed.” She says other instructors are also a great resource. “We all work together to build the Kumon brand rather than compete with each other.”

For anyone considering franchise ownership, she says to find a business you’re passionate about. “You’re going to be spending a lot of time running the business; enjoying the process will make it easier.”

To begin preparing, she recommends gaining relevant work experience. “Learn the daily operations of the business and understand that this is not a job but a future career,” she advises. “There is so much to know about running a new business; you can’t afford to make big mistakes while you’re trying to stay in business and turn a profit.”

Franchisees should be persistent, passionate and willing to work long hours. And, “an absolute belief in customer service is vital. If your customers don’t trust you or aren’t confident in your abilities, you will not succeed.”

For Opare, all of the hard work has been well worth it. “The tremendous gratitude of our parents is really rewarding. The education of their children is of key importance to them and knowing that I can play a part is something I cherish.” She also hopes her own success story will inspire her students. “Knowing that as a young entrepreneur I can inspire students makes me proud.”