RARE  RISINGSTARS - The UK’s Top 10 Black Students
rare logo
No. 7


Onyinye Udokporo

King’s College London
Education and Business

Qhayiya Magaqa

Onyinye grew up in a one bedroom flat with her three younger siblings and her parents. Her mother stayed at home to look after the four children whilst her father worked as a meter reader. However, Onyinye’s father fell ill for a while, so her mother began to work as a hairdresser from their home to make ends meet. This was a challenging time for Onyinye, and she slept in a cot until the age of six because her parents couldn’t afford to buy her a bed. Onyinye’s mother was also going to night school in order to find better paid employment, and her eldest child stepped in to take on the role of being a third parent. As much as the family’s funds were low, her mother somehow managed to pay for Onyinye’s extra tuition, since she was determined to ensure her daughter would get into a high-performing secondary school. Onyinye recalls how her mother would often find the brightest teenagers whose hair she would braid and ask them to tutor Onyinye.

After performing exceptionally well in an 11+ exam, Onyinye won a scholarship from the Worshipful Company of Tylers and Bricklayers. This award enabled her to board at Christ’s Hospital independent school, where she thrived academically and embedded herself in the school community. As a pupil, Onyinye raised over £4,000 for the Prince’s Trust, as well as leading the campaign to fundraise for a gift to the school in recognition of the opportunities they had given young people.

Onyinye went on to attend King’s College London, where she read Religion, Politics and Society and was awarded the first ever Student of the Year award for her contributions to the student body. She also won the Betty Wood Prize, awarded to the best final year BA student in Religious Studies. In another first, Onyinye became the first student to sit on the King’s College London Advisory Group before going on to study for her Master’s in Education, Policy and Society at King’s College London.

At the age of 12, Onyinye came up with a smart way to fill her long school summer holidays that would also provide a source of income – a tutoring business. Onyinye started with a few students in English, Maths and the 11+, earning money during the weekends and summer holidays. However, it was when she got to university – and was hit with the financial strain of living in London – that she decided to expand the company.

Onyinye recalls using her mother’s phone to send a few WhatsApp broadcasts about the business one weekend, and the rest is history. On the weekends, she was teaching 30 to 40 students every Saturday, in groups of up to eight in her mother’s living room. Many of the students Onyinye tutored would go on to pass the 11+, achieve lots of amazing bursaries and scholarships from multiple institutions and students who were failing their GCSEs and A-Levels would go on to achieve top grades. In the summer of her second year, Onyinye studied at Tsinghua University in Beijing. Whilst abroad, she noticed the way in which Chinese tuition companies operated at such large scale online. This inspired Onyinye to grow her business into something bigger – an online tutoring platform. Upon her return, Onyinye rebranded as Enrich Learning, created her own website, began marketing via LinkedIn, and hired nine tutors to help run her platform. She ran the platform throughout her third year and continued to provide face to face tuition every Saturday.

“The money that parents paid me would go back into the business. I never paid myself. I’ve never done it for the money, I have always done it for the kids.”

Onyinye spent a year without taking a salary, choosing instead to reinvest the fees paid by parents into the business. Onyinye’s enterprise is now growing steadily and currently makes approximately £1,600 each month from online and in person sessions.

In the UK, Enrich Learning’s mission is to provide affordable tuition for students from underprivileged backgrounds, keeping costs low but paying tutors well above the London Living Wage. Onyinye is transforming the business into an information hub where parents, students and teachers have access to education resources, tools and tips. Due to re-launch in April 2020, Enrich Learning is also set to become an online group tutoring platform, allowing for up to 25 students per session, with its growing pool of tutors.

Onyinye is dyslexic and is a champion of neurodiversity, pushing for greater understanding and support for neurodiverse students and their parents. She hopes that the Enrich Learning platform will raise awareness of the challenges faced by the neurodiverse community in the UK. In 2019, she was the guest speaker at The Lord Mayor’s Election ceremony where she spoke to an audience of 1,500 about the importance of education.

<   >