AMONG the growing number of social enterprises operating locally, NexxStepp Lifelong Educational Services is pushing to become a disruptor in the market through the life-changing programmes it offers, banking on serious ambitions to catapult operations globally.
Born out of an entrepreneurship class project at Northern Caribbean University (NCU) in Mandeville, Manchester, some ten years ago, this small and medium-size enterprise offers consultancy, education and training, soft skills and academic coaching services to individuals and corporates, comprising local and international clients.
Social enterprises are entities that apply commercial strategies to maximise improvements in financial, social and environmental well-being. Since these businesses are largely self-sustaining and profits are often reinvested to drive growth, these operations usually strive to ensure they provide specialised services whilst targeting unmet needs and in key areas.
It is for these reasons principal and founder of NexxStepp, Tishauna Mullings wants to expand her business. Having already landed lucrative consultancy projects with high-end clients such as the US Embassy and British Council, the aim, she said, is to further drive growth for the business in markets outside local borders, including the Caribbean and other mainland territories.
“Over the next three to five years the mission is to expand our team so that we can begin to engage a larger field of global clients as we tap into overseas markets and earn more foreign exchange for the business,” she told the Jamaica Observer's Sunday Finance, noting a current staff complement comprising some six persons down from eight since the pandemic.
Starting the business with funds from a few pay cheques from early employment opportunities, Mullings is yearning to reap attractive returns on investments, benefits she hopes will also transition her business into becoming a household name.
“NexxStepp Lifelong Educational Services is a social enterprise which aims to become Jamaica's one-stop shop for soft skills training. Our mission is to solve issues touching on a wide array of social topics, leaving a positive impact on all our clients.
“What sets us apart is our service delivery charter to 'Engage, Energize, Equip and Entertain' . We use high-level, globally competitive approaches to have our clients gain the highest possible value from engaging with us,” she said.
The proud St Thomas native and 2019 Chevening scholar, who is no stranger to success, said that through the services offered by her company the motive is to also elevate her business as a force for good, using it as vehicle to transform mindsets and to develop socially rounded citizens.
In preparing her business to become globally ready, Mullings has over the last few years taken significant steps to redefine how services are delivered — accelerated by the vicissitudes of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“We have always operated a hybrid model where staff work in the office, engaging clients and executing administrative duties daily, while going out at times to deliver training to clients. As a result of the pandemic we were, however, forced to adapt to the work-from-home model and have, since the last few months, made the hard decision to close our physical office as we move to operate virtually,” Mullings stated.
In preparing for the new wave of development she hopes to come for the business, the optimistic founder has also began to leverage greater use of technology to drive advancement and service delivery, allowing for unfettered access across geographic locations and without limitations.
“In welcoming the opportunity to develop a digital business that is disaster-proof we have recently launched some new services, the latest being a teen coaching course called Ready, Set, Go — an online course aimed at supporting teens as they execute life and career goals. All our other services, including soft skills training workshops, can also be accessed online,” she noted.
Admitting that there were still some challenges and hurdles to overcome, the indomitable social entrepreneur said she was confident of the growth for which she searches.
“We may have lost some revenues and a few clients since the pandemic but we are moving to correct this as we rise and rebuild to take Nexxstepp to the world,” she said.