Caroline Popoola : Nigerian woman taking UK Childcare sector by storm

The ZAFAA award 2015 nominees are …
September 17, 2015
Business profile: Alpha Childcare
September 22, 2015
Caroline Popoola

Muibat Kikelomo Caroline Popoola is the founder and director of Alpha Chains Limited and Alpha Childcare Limited. Born in Hammersmith London UK and at the age of 7 was taken to Nigeria when her parents relocated. At the age of 17, she came back to England by herself. Lived with a family friend for 1 year.

“I hated it so much that I moved out and squatted in a flat in Peckham for another year. I became homeless as I did not want to stay there as the house was infested with cockroaches and rats. I was then moved to a hostel called Beacon House in Aldgate East.”

Whilst living in the hostel, Caroline got a job as a cleaner in an insurance company AON group in Aldgate earning £400 a month and that gave her the opportunity to leave her CV on the HR assistants desk, having learned how to fast type at Sight and Sound School in Charing Cross. After a few months, she was employed in the company as a filing clerk and literally worked her way up.

Caroline Popoola
Caroline Popoola, CEO Alpha Childcare

She worked in the same company till the age of 21 when she finally decided to look for something else in Insurance that came with training. She moved to Travel and Personal Underwriters where she gained enough experience and qualification as an insurance underwriter. She also had the opportunity to lead a team of 8 staff.

From henceforth, her life would not be the same again. Caroline worked at Lloyds for London and other companies in the city for approximately 12 years. During this period she changed her job literally every 2 years and knew that she always got restless and bored. She knew she wanted more but not sure what it was she wanted to do or needed to do.

Studying was the last thing for Caroline, in her own words, “I hated studying but forced myself with the help of a friend who enrolled me to study Business communications and PR part-time (because she said I can talk for England) thinking I will probably be a journalist. After my BA (Hons) at the London School of Printing Elephant and Castle, I still worked in the city. The last company I worked for in the city, the manager called me into the office and said they were sorry but they had to let me go. I did not understand that because I was brilliant at what I did. Came early, left late, worked hard. They walked me out of the building with a Mercedes Benz waiting outside to take me home. I only had 30 minutes to clear my desk and say my goodbyes.” She was made redundant.

Got home, told my husband and he said ” oh well you have always hated your job and always bored. You can re-train and I will look after the house for the next 2 year”.

Hence she decided to re-train as a childcare practitioner “only for the money not for the love of children as I did not have one or looked after anyone’s child in my life.”

Determined to become successful, she volunteered in a nursery and made herself known to the childcare team, informing anyone that cared to listen that she was looking to start a nursery (which no one believed, they just laughed).
In September 2004 however, she started her first childcare setting which now has 10 branches of Breakfast/out-of-school/holiday clubs / pre-school & nursery settings across the South East and East London with the 11th setting opening soon for up to 100 children.

Caroline is a mother to 3 respectable, confident, and adorable children and a wife to “My hunk and my rock Mr. Olakunle Popoola (the shoulder I lean on) for 15 years.”
She is currently studying her MSc International Business Management at the University of East London.

Faustina Anyanwu
Faustina Anyanwu
Faustina Anyanwu is a features writer focusing on people's stories, entrepreneurship, start-ups, social media marketing, and profiling. Follow her on Twitter - @fauntee Official Website: Mantra: Real Women Think Legacy.