Georgia Jeweler to Open a Business School in Kenya

The school will operate inside an orphanage and teach basic business skills

Doug Meadows, owner of David Douglas Diamonds & Jewelry in Marietta, Ga., is in the process of opening a business school inside an orphanage in Nakuru, Kenya.

In recent years, Meadows has made several trips to various African countries with the mission of helping communities create and maintain vocations and businesses.

In 2011, he taught women stone setters in Zambia and Kenya how to make finished jewelry they could then sell to support themselves. However, when several of them failed to set up lasting businesses, Meadows realized that a proper business education was the real key to success.

Doug Meadows teaching a group of women in Zambia in 2011

A group of teens at an orphanage in Nakuru, Kenya, will be the first students to attend Meadows’ school, which will open early next year. The students will learn basic business practices, with the goal of becoming self-sufficient (or at least ready for the business world) when they age out of the orphanage.

“One of the worst ways to help is to just donate once,” Meadows told JCK. “The best way to help is to educate, which is something that can never be taken away.”

This idea drives the school’s programming, he says. What often happens in Kenyan orphanages is children are taken in at a young age, but educational resources are not in place, so they typically leave after several years without gaining any skills, often lapsing into homelessness.

Meadows’ program will strive to ensure every child leaves with a basic business education. The jeweler set up a small crowd-funding site, Go Sponsor!, as a way for the students to raise start-up money for their businesses.

The difficulty of starting a business is offset by Kenya’s culture of “peddling everything there,” says Meadows, making it potentially simpler for the students to turn a profit right away, after only a small donation or investment.

An ethical education is also a central part of the school’s curriculum. Students will also participate in “character-building,” intended to aid them both in business and their personal lives.

“They aspired to be incredible people when they were younger,” Meadows says of the orphans. “We want to help them become those great people.”

JCK Magazine Editor