How Jena Mukina Took Her Business to Top of the Class

How Jena Mukina Took Her Business to Top of the Class


Vital stats:

  • Company: The Little Ashford Preschool
  • Player: Jena Mukina
  • Est: 2009
  • Contact: +27 (0)11 568 1319,
  • Visit:

Ask yourself

Are you channeling your passion into your business to keep you motivated during tough times?

“I will survive”. The famous line from Gloria Gaynor’s disco classic was Jena Mukina’s favourite song as a teenager. It’s the mantra she lives by and the bedrock on which her business has been built.

Mukina launched the Little Ashford Preschool in 2009, with no financial backing. Today, she operates three boutique pre-schools in Gauteng, caring for 265 children, and there are more to come.

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What made you go into education?

With Honours in marketing management, I started working in the automotive industry. After completing my Masters degree in business management, I became a lecturer. That was my introduction to the world of teaching, which I found immensely fulfilling.

How did you survive start-up challenges?

My husband gave me the best business advice: Endurance is essential for success, be patient, stick to your goals, and never give up. Whenever I wanted to give up, I remembered these words. This saw me through the nerve-wracking early years of the business.

What keeps you motivated?Jena-Mukina_little-Ashford-preschool

Our final product. Education has a specific purpose as it helps to improve the lives of children and prepares them to become successful adults. I have worked hard to get the schools to where they are today because I’m driven by seeing children learning.

What inspires you?

Former cover girl, entrepreneur and TV star Kimora Lee Simmons. Taking on her personality – or my interpretation of it – makes it easier to separate my work and home life. At work I am a bit bossy, but also rational, highly functional, and a bit fun too. At home, I am a more carefree wife and mother.

What was your worst business decision?

Trying to do everything yourself is a big no-no. In the beginning I was extremely controlling and I wanted to do it all, which was impossible. Today I have 48 employees and a sustainable business.

What makes you a good leader?

Open-mindedness – I readily take a unique approach to situations. I’m also committed to making dreams a reality. My knowledge of business has been another differentiator. I launched the first school with an intricate understanding of the business proposition.

Related: The Secret to Sustained Entrepreneurial Success



Monique Verduyn
Monique Verduyn is a freelance writer. She has more than 12 years’ experience in writing for the corporate, SME, IT and entertainment sectors, and has interviewed many of South Africa’s most prominent business leaders and thinkers. Find her on Google+.