CEFA Canadian Franchise Opportunity - Founder Natacha Beim

Date: JAN 28th, 2015

Topic: Interview with a CEO

Natacha Beim an internationally recognized educational leader, author, speaker and parenting expert. In 1996, she founded the highly recognized CEFA Early Learning Schools, which she expanded by franchising. As a pioneer in the field of education, Beim continually studies brain development, child psychology and early learning. She travels worldwide studying educational approaches.

Beim’s progressive CEFA curriculum delivers academic excellence, creativity and social contribution. She rigorously trains teachers and empowers them to adapt the curriculum to captivate each student. Her graduates consistently rate top of their class in the most prestigious schools, and have a lifelong passion for learning.

A published writer at sixteen, Beim speaks three languages, has a Masters in Education and counts many accomplishments, from modeling to marathon running. She won the Top 40 Under 40 Entrepreneur Award; Woman of Worth Award for Empowered Educator; Women of Distinction Award finalist for Education, four years in a row, and 2014 finalist for EY Entrepreneur of the Year. CEFA won the 2012, 2013 and 2014 Biggest BC Business owned by women; top Franchise in BC in 2013 and 2014, and ranked 4th in BC Fastest Growing Companies.

BeTheBoss: Tell us about the CEFA Early Learning concept.

Natacha Beim: CEFA Early Learning Schools are a magical place, where children from birth to age 5 are prepared academically and socially, and encouraged to be creative and to contribute to the world. The schools’ exclusive CEFA curriculum encompasses so much, preparing children for school, and for a life lived with purpose. The best part is that it does this while fostering in its students a sense of wonder, and only using games and activities that are truly fascinating.

I have wanted to be a teacher since I was 2 years old, and have a Masters in Education. I later specialized in Early Learning, and continued my studies in brain development, to understand how children learn from a biological perspective. I dedicate at least 2 hours daily to research in psychology, neurology, child development, and progressive teaching practices worldwide.

For almost 20 years now, CEFA has excelled at making education fascinating for children, and ensuring they carry this enthusiasm and proactive nature throughout their lives. I am convinced that CEFA children are changing the world as we speak!

The CEFA educational method and its curriculum are designed to stimulate children during the brain’s most formative years, increasing the child’s intellectual capacity for life. It is a contemporary approach to early childhood development, which reflects the needs of children worldwide in today’s society, and aims to ensure that children are engaged in their education, and live their lives with purpose.

BTB: How and when did you become involved with CEFA Early Learning franchise?

NB: I understood at the age of 21 what kind of teacher I wanted to be. I was an elementary school teacher and knew that research into early childhood education displayed how experience-based brain development sets a course for future learning, health and behaviour. I realized that age-specific curricula aimed at engaging and teaching the whole child were needed, so I searched for a school doing just that. I was surprised to discover that there was no such school in Canada and really no decent options for Early Childhood Education at the time. So, I began creating a curriculum of my own.

In 1998, I proudly opened the first CEFA Early Learning school. It became so popular that parents traveled more than 2 hours daily to send their children to CEFA. We had long waiting lists, and parents who pleaded with me to open one closer to their cities. I was never a business person, and opening my one school had been a scarring experience for me, training me by fire to manage an entire business. I had no interest in going through this experience again, so for years politely declined the offers to open more CEFA schools, until one day I realized that by franchising the schools, I could allow parents and teachers to open their very own CEFA schools in their communities, yet ensuring that the curriculum, and everything else that made CEFA so unique, would be preserved and respected.

It was scary at the time, as I had to learn so much more in order to do it well, and I did it all by myself, but it is definitely the very best decision I made. I get to share ideas with parents and teachers who know first hand what it is like to serve the children in their communities, and who want to contribute to children’s lives as much as I do. Now instead of being alone in developing CEFA, I can count on many incredible owners, as invested as I am in making CEFA the very best place for children to attend during their first five years. The games I created to teach our students are now being used and improved by hundreds of teachers who have attended CEFA University, and who are as passionate as I am in early learning. CEFA has truly become much bigger and much better than I ever could have imagined, and is my source of inspiration every day!

BTB: What was your background prior to joining CEFA Early Learning franchise?

NB: I always knew I would be a teacher, and I had the opportunity to work for the French educational system, which is excellent academically. I soon realized that there was a much better way to teach children the academics, one that was exciting, fun, and had a sense of wonder about it. I also found that focusing mainly on the academics was not the right approach. Children needed to be exposed to the arts, through drama, music, visual arts, sculpture, dance, as much as they needed to learn math and reading.

It got to the point where my ideas were too large for what the system allowed, and I made the difficult choice to open my own school and create my own curriculum. I have a Masters in Education, and a specialization in early learning. I have also studied brain development, psychology, child development, and other fields I found essential to understand how children learn. I am an avid learner – I read at least 3 books every week, and dedicate 2 hours daily to research. I also love writing. I published a book at the age of 16, which won a national award. I never saw any limits to what I could do, and I want every child to feel that excited about what they have to contribute to the world. That is why I focus mainly on CEFA.

BTB: What are some of the advantages in being a CEFA Early Learning franchisee?

NB: Owning a CEFA school is not really a business decision. It is a passion to do something bigger than yourself. Our franchisees are wonderful people, and owning a CEFA school gives them a great sense of fulfillment.

I shared earlier that I knew nothing about business when I first started, and made every mistake I could possibly have made. Now my franchisees benefit from that painful experience, because we make sure that they have our expertise every step of the way. We train their teachers and principals, we deal with licensing, real estate, marketing and practically every hurdle they can encounter. We take pride in knowing that many of our franchisees are successful, and on their way to owning their second, third or even fourth school! My goal is to make sure that every young child has access to CEFA because it will change their lives and support them when it matters most. I know that our teachers and franchisees feel exactly the same and we do everything we can to make sure they feel supported in their endeavor. Being part of CEFA is really belonging to something incredible!

BTB: Who is your ideal franchisee?

NB: Someone who has a burning desire to make a difference in the world. Our curriculum and training take care of the rest.M

Many of our Franchise Partners were either CEFA parents or CEFA teachers, who experienced firsthand what a difference CEFA made in their children.

BTB: Tell us a little about the children education market?

NB: It is a great time to get into the industry. We are experiencing a baby boom right now and a renewed interest in early childhood development. The market consists mainly of preschools and daycares – not full day private schools that provide a complete early learning curriculum. We were the first and today still the largest and most influential private early learning school in Canada.

BTB: What are some of the greatest lessons you’ve learned in growing this franchise?

NB: That passion and determination are great, and education is a noble goal, but you also need excellent systems in place to ensure that you are economically viable, successful, and always the leader in your market. Once you have the systems, keep improving, never stop improving.

BTB: Do you have a mentor and is there someone you use for inspiration?

NB: My inspiration comes from my books. I am always learning, and everything seems to come to me at the right time. Having said that, I am very fortunate to have many, many close friends that also own businesses, or are in education, that I learn from every day, including our franchisees.

BTB: What advice do you have for someone looking to acquire a franchise?

NB: Do your research, and make sure that you are passionate about the franchise you are embarking into. Financial rewards are not as rewarding unless you have a sense of belonging and contribution. Is your franchisor approachable? Knowledgeable? Interested in what you have to say?

BTB:In your opinion, why do you think that CEFA Early Learning would be a great opportunity for someone?

NB: There are not many opportunities out there that give you financial security, personal freedom, and the ability to do something you are truly proud of doing. More often than not, you sacrifice one of those goals in order to reach another. Owning a CEFA school can provide you with all three. CEFA is perfect for those looking to have balance in their lives, and have time for themselves and their families. After all, we are all about children and families!