Global People Lunch & Talk: Mariam Talhaoui's Inspiring Entrepreneurial Journey
Mariam Talhaoui's Journey Establishing Thriving Daycare in Almere
On 14 November, at Wittenborg's Amsterdam study location, Mariam Talhaoui, founder of Second Home Kinderopvang, captivated students and staff with her journey from a small daycare to a thriving business.
Wittenborg Senior Lecturer, Amy Abdou, introduced Talhaoui as a prominent figure in the local entrepreneurial landscape, celebrated for her achievements in childcare, notably as the winner in the Entrepreneur category at the Global People Awards 2022. Talhaoui returned for the 18th edition of the awards in November 2023, this time as a jury member.
Seizing opportunities in the Netherlands
Born and raised in the Netherlands after her parents emigrated from Morocco in 1974, Talhaoui's story is a testament to hard work, dedication and the seizing of opportunities.
Talhaoui's entrepreneurial spirit and dedication to childcare were evident as she spoke about the challenges and victories of her journey. Reflecting on her family's immigration story, she quoted her father's words: "I left my country for a better future. You have the chance to go to school and get an education and work hard in the Netherlands. So make a success of your life."
Her entrepreneurial venture, Second Home Kinderopvang, started a decade ago in Almere with a modest location catering to 20 children. Today, it has expanded to 12 locations in Almere. At the moment, there are a number of children from different families, including India, Nigeria, Suriname, Africa and more.
Speaking about the growth, Talhaoui remarked, "Ten years ago, I started my first daycare at a small location. It is a good business. But you need to have a passion for childcare. It is also a lot of responsibility."
Talhaoui identified an unmet need in the market, recognising that there is a lack of childcare options in the Netherlands, especially considering that most parents work. To address this, her business operates until 19:00, providing a safe environment for children up to the age of 12.
Talhaoui explained that while in many countries it is common for people to have 'nannies' or somebody at home to look after their children, in the Netherlands, the 'Belastingdienst' or tax office provides parents with 'Kinderopvangtoeslag' or childcare allowances to make childcare more accessible. Many individuals seek her advice on navigating government support in their particular situations.
Running a business in the Netherlands
Navigating the strict regulations and high operational costs of running a daycare in the Netherlands were also addressed during the talk.
"Daycare in the Netherlands is very strict. You have to have declarations and other requirements for employees to adhere to in order to ensure the safety of children," she explained.
Students were eager to understand the financial aspects of her business, and Talhaoui revealed that 70% of her expenses go to payroll, reflecting the high level of responsibility and protection afforded to employees in the Netherlands. She expressed her commitment to creating a safe and supportive environment not only for children but also for her employees.
"It is not only the children that must be safe, but all of my people. It is important to be good to people. We listen to them. We provide what they need. It is a beautiful thing to give them work. It is not only business."
Talhaoui wrapped up her insightful talk by unveiling her hands-on management style, consistently engaging with managers across different locations to ensure seamless operations. She underscored the pivotal role of financial independence in propelling her business forward, expressing reservations about venturing into franchises due to concerns about maintaining stringent safety standards.
Abdou reflected on Talhaoui's entrepreneurial journey, finding it truly inspiring:
"Small business statistics indicate that 95% of them never exceed ten employees and rarely progress beyond that point. Mariam, you embody what we call a 'gazelle', running very fast."
by Erene Roux