Deenin Padayachee, accountant turned stay-at-home-dad turned entrepreneur has two traditionally contrasting passions, namely kids and business, which he elegantly merged into one through his venture Little Thinker. Seeing a gap in the market whilst searching for development programs for his newborn son, Deenin plunged into the world of child development and has never looked back since.
After working as an accountant and audit manager throughout South Africa and England for 10 years, Deenin Padayachee decided it was time to take a break from the corporate world to become a stay-at-home dad to his two kids. After researching various development programs for his young children without any luck finding a suitable product, Deenin decided to step back into the corporate world. “I saw an opportunity in the market and was willing to take a risk by starting a business. Being a stay-at-home dad, I also needed to find a way to contribute to the family financially. Being an entrepreneur lets me do this as well as allows me precious family time as I am able to plan my working day around my kids.”
Little Thinker offers kids between the ages of 0 to three a variety of simple and affordable development programs and activity sets aimed to strengthen and encourage core development milestones. “The early years between 0 and 3 have been identified as crucial to a child’s development and if we can assist them at this early age, imagine the possibilities South Africa if all kids could grow up to be well-developed functioning adults in society.” Deenin is absolutely burning with passion regarding early-age development, and is doing everything in his power to ensure Little Thinker’s success. The Supplier Development Programme is Deenin’s second interaction with MEDO, where earlier in 2014 he completed the ISUZU Business Foundations Skills workshop. “I am hoping that MEDO will continue to provide the valuable guidance and support it has done for me in the past, and help me grow the business to be one of the key market players in early childhood development not only in South Africa but also globally. I would not be where I am today with my business if it were not for the guidance and support that I have received from MEDO.”
Looking to the future 10 years down the line, Deenin still sees himself at the helm of Little Thinker, “hopefully not so involved in the current day to day activities as I am doing now but able to concentrate on strategy, growing the business and adding a CSI element to help uplift and improve impoverished communities” he chips in. His ultimate dream for Little thinker is to become the leader of early childhood development programs worldwide, “if your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough” he enthusiastically adds. “Besides the economic input and job creation opportunities, I am hoping that our products would have a greater impact at both grassroots level as well as suburban families by providing a means to jumpstart learning and development in children. We must be able to influence learning in a way that ensures children are given the best opportunity to set themselves, and society up for success.”
At the BT/ISUZU/Rennies Supplier Development programme, Deenin was offered the tools and skills to reach his goals. By setting up a Lean Business Model, he was forced to better understand, fine tune and explore Little Thinker in ways he previously never considered. “By preparing a Lean business model canvas, facets of the business that were problematic suddenly jumped right out at me. I really needed to take a step back and relook certain aspects of my business in order to move forward.”
“Entrepreneurship is one of the key factors to create employment in South Africa, Deenin furthers, “It allows people who have lost their jobs in the corporate sector to actively contribute to the growth of South Africa whilst being able to earn a living.” Deenin and Little Thinker is a prime example of the power entrepreneurs hold to South Africa, by building the nation by starting with its smallest people.