Fifteen years ago, Therese Djob arrived in Quebec from her native Cameroon as an international student. Six years later in 2010, she obtained a Degree in Mathematics and Technology from the University of Quebec in Montreal. Her determination to learn then led her to move to Nova Scotia, and in 2014 she graduated with a Bachelor of Education from the University of Cape Breton.
During her stay in Nova Scotia, she gained extensive experience teaching adults and children within and outside of schools. Therese is currently a native French-speaking certified educator specializing in math and French, with over eight years of experience teaching in Francophone and French Immersion schools. The best part: she is successfully running her own tutoring business, FrenchEtVoila!
It must be said that Therese does not lack an entrepreneurial inclination. Education and entrepreneurship is a family story. Her mother and maternal grandmother were seasoned and successful teachers and entrepreneurs.
The entrepreneurial flame sparked when she moved to Leduc in 2016 with her husband and their young children. She searched for tutors who spoke French for their children in vain, then decided to offer tutoring to her children on her own. After almost two years, she realized that there was a real need and opportunity in the community.
It was then that Therese decided to use her extensive teaching experience, built over the previous six years, to start her own tutoring business offering math classes in French, and French language classes to youth and adults.
The birth of FrenchEtVoila
The idea of launching the business being ripe, she felt ready but had no idea where to start or where to go for help. She then decided to challenge Google to help her find a support service for aspiring immigrant entrepreneurs. This eventually led her to a toll-free number that connected her with Business Link’s Jean Jacques Mitakaro, a trusted bilingual business advisor specializing in for-profit, not-for-profit/charity, and immigrant entrepreneurship.
“Jean-Jacques has been of invaluable help as a trusted advisor and mentor. I was able to communicate in French while having access to resources available in English. He also introduced me to his extensive network of professionals and entrepreneurs. From there, I managed to get support from other advisors and organizations like Joris Desmares-Decaux from the Alberta Economic Development Council, who has helped me a lot since then and whom I thank very much. “
Challenges and successes
Starting the business was difficult, but as soon as she found support from Jean Jacques and other trusted people and professionals, Therese says she started to gain confidence in herself. She improved her business skills and built her own network including a small circle of trusted people to turn to for help based on her business needs.
Once the business was up and off the ground, the biggest challenge was to promote it so that the community would be aware of the services available and ultimately purchase them. Therese worked hard to build a curriculum and promote her business so that satisfied clients would refer people in their network.
As Therese says, the greatest challenge that has arisen due to the growth of her business is the need to find the right balance between her status as a wife, mother of young children, substitute teacher, and entrepreneur.
Some of the things she is proud of are the knowledge she has acquired in so little time and the confidence she has in herself as a woman entrepreneur. Above all, her greatest success is the satisfaction she feels knowing that she is making a positive difference when her clients acknowledge their progress in French communication (writing, speaking) and in math.
A future that looks bright
As Eleanor Roosevelt said, the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams. Therese dreams big for the future of her business. She’s working hard to find the right balance between family and business by hiring and retaining employees. Her big dream is huge expansion, starting in Edmonton where she plans to offer FrenchEtVoila services in the near future.
In the long term, Therese envisions major expansion in Alberta, Canada and worldwide via new technologies. Making new technologies an ally will allow her to succeed in offering French and math tutoring services to customers around the world through tutorials, videos, and personalized advice online.
For Therese, entrepreneurship is hard for everyone but it is even harder for immigrant women who have young children. Therese advises aspiring immigrant entrepreneurs to trust themselves, transcend the fear of failure, and find the right support from family and the business community.