The Know Place
The Know Place sells American standardised tests (PSAT, SAT, GRE, GMAT, TOEFL) preparatory materials and provides tutorial classes for these tests.
How it all started:
I studied in the US. But I encountered a lot of challenges paying my school fees. I had to work two jobs, sometimes over the summer. When school was in session, I usually took double the course load for full-time students in order to get through my courses faster. Once, I was away from school for a year because I could not pay my fees. I finally managed to get to my final year and I could not graduate because I owed my school.
When all my efforts to raise the funds I needed for my final year failed, I cried for days. Determined not to become an illegal resident in the US, I packed my bags and returned home to Nigeria. I was a Nigerian undergraduate student in the US. My GPA was equivalent to a first class in Nigeria.
I had won multiple awards for my academic achievements. I had been listed on the Dean’s List at the University at Buffalo, the National Dean’s List in the US, and the much coveted Who’s Who among Students in American Universities and Colleges. For outstanding leadership and academic achievements, I had been accepted to the University at Buffalo’s Advanced Honours programme, the pre-med honour society (Alpha Epsilon Delta) and the freshman honour society (Phi Eta Sigma). But all my awards and honours felt worthless for a moment when I had to pack my bags and return home.
For a moment in my life, I had come to believe that hard work had no merit for me because I was a Nigerian girl. The first mistake I made was to accept an admission from a state owned school in the US – I was told that the school could not use American ‘tax payers’ money to fund a foreign student’s education. The second I made was not to apply to a school that offered scholarships to Nigerian students.
I made up my mind that I was not going to sit back and watch other young promising Nigerians go through what I had been through. I have a personal belief that an experience is worth nothing except it is shared with others and used by them to improve their lives and achieve their desired goals. I also strongly believe that I should go through life like a bridge maker. That after I cross through the lakes, rivers or oceans of life, I must make a bridge so that others can cross the same path with relative ease.
This is the belief system that led to the creation of The Know Place Limited.
When I returned to Nigeria, I started offering tutorial classes to students who wanted to study in the US, first informally and then I saw the need to restructure my efforts into a business so that I could reach out and help as many students as possible. My focus was singular, to help students score as high as they can possibly score in order to win scholarships – whether partial or full scholarships – to help fund their American education, and also to help high achieving students gain admission to the Ivy League universities or the top universities in the US.
Starting The Know Place came with challenges. But God’s grace alone has taken us from our very humble beginning when I was the only staff and I had to sell off my shares in order to raise funds to finance our business operations to a stage we had about four tutors in our employ.
But in 2010, when we had some financial difficulties, we had to suspend providing tutorial classes until 2011, when our doors were opened again. In 2011, I heard about the YouWin! Business Plan completion through a friend and I checked out the YouWin! website and I applied. By God’s grace alone, out of the approximately 24,000 applications received, I emerged as one of the 1,200 winners. By God’s grace, I have won multiple awards while studying in the US, but winning a business plan competition in my own country that was conducted transparently is refreshing and far more satisfying.
Impact of YouWin Grant
Through the YouWin! Grant, we can help so many more students who desire earnestly to pursue degrees – undergraduate or post-graduate – in the US and other countries in the world. We intend to provide tutorial classes to as many Nigerian students as possible. The YouWin! grant provides us the opportunity to increase our capacity, to hire more staff and to provide tutorial classes to more students than we previously could.
I am truly excited that now we have the financial backing to help more Nigerian students qualify for scholarships in the US by helping them perform better on the American standardised tests. In essence, the YouWin! grant offered to The Know Place does not only affect my life, it affects the lives of those Nigerians that we at The Know Place will help gain scholarships, who will otherwise not have an opportunity to win scholarships on their own because they do not have all the resources at their disposal.
Foreign education and future of Nigeria
I strongly believe that in order for us to produce cutting-edge leaders and strategic policymakers, we must provide a channel for knowledge to be transferred from developed countries to our great nation - Nigeria. One such channel is through studying abroad.
I believe that if we are able to increase the number of Nigerians who study in developed countries today, we will successfully increase our national wealth of knowledge for today and the future; a wealth of knowledge that will enable us tackle the current problems of our nation, and innovate to improve economic and other outcomes for the future.