For Sithumini Millawabandara, business ownership has been a creative expression. While working in a preschool nearly 10 years ago, Sithumini found herself coming up with many ideas for innovation that her employer was not willing to act on. With a degree in business, Sithumini knew that she was capable of running her own preschool center–and if she wanted to carry out her creative ideas, she would have to do it on her own.
In 2014, Sithumini opened Adventure Montessori STEAM Academy from her home. While she made the at-home business work, offering a Montessori-inspired and STEAM curriculum, Sithumini consistently searched for opportunities to expand the business to an established facility. When she found a promising facility in Natomas, she joined the second cohort of the California Capital Women’s Business Center’s Licensed to Care Training Program and began working with business consultant Danielle Marshall to work on securing the lease and opening the new facility.
“Even with my degree in business, I learned a lot during the program,” explains Sithumini. “It made me rethink my mission and vision of my program, and how certain things should be positioned when it comes to marketing.”
Working with Danielle Marshall for a total of 20 hours of counseling, Sithumini created an actionable business plan, which proved to be advantageous for several reasons. Being able to show a strong vision and financial projections helped Sithumini secure a lease on the space in Natomas, as well as receive a loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration which she used for the purchase of an established childcare business. Additionally, through her participation in the Licensed to Care program, Sithumini was eligible to apply for a California Dream Fund grant, which she was awarded.
Sithumini opened Adventure Montessori STEAM Academy at its new location in Natomas (Northern Sacramento) in the fall of 2022 with a renewed focus on her creative vision for early childhood education: natural playscapes and classrooms; teaching of mindfulness activities, and cultural diversity. Since participating in the Licensed to Care program, in addition to the acquisition of another business, expansion to a larger operation space, and receiving a Dream Fund Grant, Sithumini has also created five jobs–with plans to hire more–and doubled her revenue.