Interviews

Jamaicans in Business: Rachael McDonald, CEO, Fundaciones El Centro and Fundaciones

Written by Xavier Murphy

Fundaciones started in 2008 as an opportunity for children of all ages to learn Spanish in an after school setting. Conceived and birthed by the dynamic and energetic educator, Rachael McDonald, Fundaciones is Spanish for ‘foundations’ and describes perfectly what students learn at their centres. Here is our conversation with Rachael McDonald, CEO, Fundaciones El Centro and Fundaciones.
Q: Are you a business person or entrepreneur or both?

I guess I’m an entrepreneur. I’m the head cook and bottle washer at Fundaciones Limited which operates two educational centres – Fundaciones El Centro and Fundaciones Montego Bay. These centres offer a variety of programmes, services and activities for children 18 months – 18 years. The most popular programme is our bilingual preschool & prekindergarten programme where the focus is on dual language acquisition (Spanish & English) along with several after school sessions.

When our Kingston branch was opened in 2009 we were perhaps the only organization specializing and centralizing after school options for kids. In 2010 the bilingual preschool emerged as a result.
Q: What was your profession before you started Fundaciones?
I’ve always worked with children from I started my own brand of summer camps in 1997 when I was 16 years old. In college I taught 3rd grade elementary Spanish and worked with America Reads. In 2003 when I returned home I took a job teaching High School Spanish at a private High School before starting Fundaciones in 2008.

Q: Who or what motivated you to go into business of education?
I’ve always liked working with children and fortunately I’ve been blessed to have had the strong support of my family and friends who have always rallied around and behind me, in all my efforts.

Q: Did you face any challenges in mobilizing your capital?
There are always challenges when it comes to mobilizing money but I tend to focus and zoom in; I put my blinkers on when I know my goals and dreams have to be met and materialized.

Q: Tell us about Fundaciones?
Fundaciones is Spanish for foundations, which describes in one word our commitment to teaching the fundamentals in various subject areas. We offer a variety of programmes, services and activities for children 18 months – 18 years. Our methodology embraces a variety of hands-on and sometimes non-traditional activities that encourage meaningful experiences.

Q: Many businesses have a moment they call their “big break”, whether it be a news story, a big
contract etc. Have you or your business had that “”big break ” yet?
I’m grateful for the consistent blessings we’ve had as a business. Introducing programmes, receiving interest, expanding programmes, etc. These have all helped make Fundaciones the organization it is today.

Q: Other than the money what types of satisfaction do you get out of your work?
Other than the money?! Money does not offer me satisfaction in this business. It’s important as we have bills to pay, etc. Instead it’s the smiles on the childrens’ faces when they walk in to our centres, listening to little ones speaking in Spanish, sharing sweet success with our GSAT kids, watching a Chemistry grade move from 60% to 90%. These are some of the situations that make my team and I literally keep doing what we do.

Q: What motivates you on a day to day basis?
The fact that my organization is an agent of change. Together, we give kids the fundamentals they need in order to be the global citizens of tomorrow.

Q. Do you have any hobbies?
I enjoy eating out with my family and friends a lot. I also love a really good book.

Q. If the economy crashed hard and there was no more room for you in the education/business sector, what would you do with yourself?
To imagine me living without working with children or in the field of education is very difficult. I like the interactions that these two promote and encourage and I like making a difference.

Q: Seven day, six night, all expense paid, my vacation destination is…
I love being on a plane and enjoy traveling. Almost any country will do.

Q: My favorite guilty pleasure is…
Eating out (and overspending) and shopping (and overspending)

Q: My favorite Jamaican food is…
Fried fish and festival at the beach

Q: My favorite Jamaican restaurant is…
I don’t have a favourite but I do go out every Saturday night with my family.

Q: What advice would you give someone who wants to achieve the same level of success you have?
Don’t give up!
For more information on Fundaciones, please visit their website www.learnthefun.com, follow them on Twitter @elcentrojm and like them on Facebook

About the author

Xavier Murphy