“To be an entrepreneur, you must put yourself totally into it.If you want to be successful in any area put yourself into it and trust God”. Those are the words of Dr. Donald Smith who co- founded Daystar university in 1964 with Dr. S.E. Motsoko Pheko, a political refugee from South Africa, and his wife Mrs. Faye K. Smith.
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Dr. Smith and Mrs. Smith have lived in the African continent for 62 years. Initially they settled in South Africa in 1952 as missionaries as educators at a teachers college.
Mrs. Smith explained that, “Things don’t always go as you think they would, the South African government took over the missionary schools so we didn’t have a school anymore”.
The Smith’s group then moved to Johannesburg South Africa where they published pamphlets and booklets in the local languages of the South African people. At that time there were no books written for Africans so they decided to start a publishing company which became the fourth largest circulating magazine in Africa.
The magazine trained Africans on writing and publishing skills and hence became successful because it proved the capability of Africans to the extent of them running the magazine. At the same time people from around the world came to Dr. Smith and Mrs. Smith for Literature classes.
Dr. Smith faced challenges such as no sufficient capital for a magazine and the apartheid government shutting down the magazine because according to the government, “Africans were not ready”.
They then relocated to Bulawayo Zimbabwe, where they launched their second publishing house Daystar communication which published teaching guides for public schools in Zimbabwe, but they had to flee because of the war which led to sanctions.
Their next destination was in Nairobi Kenya which had the best communication system and infrastructure. In 1974 the Daystar Communications acquired a 1.54 acre plot in downtown Nairobi and established a small campus. According to Dr. Smith they started training people but no one was investing but he found a way of earning money through research and evaluating problems which paid well .People from other continents also heard about the Smiths and asked how they could help.
Dr. Smith insisted that they never used money from daystar communication. “Rather than making ourselves rich and comfortable, we put all of our money in Daystar”. Starting up Daystar University according to Dr. Smith was tough financially because of remodeling and because they did know anyone when they were in Kenya.
In 1994 Daystar University College became a fully charted university now known as Daystar University. The Smiths have no involvement in the administration of Daystar University. According to them, “It is freeing if you don’t have to struggle with decisions affecting many people, we gave out all contacts to daystar, and we walked away with nothing’’.
Their greatest achievement was seeing people and receiving letters from people who they taught back in 1974. Dr. and Mrs. Smith now live happily in their house inside Daystar Athi River campus in the300-acre property, at Athi River (39 kilometers East of Nairobi) .