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SmartStart

SmartStart is taking quality and affordable early learning opportunities to low-income communities and tens of thousands of children across South Africa.

Facts

Investee SmartStart, founded 2015
Location South Africa
Sector Education and skills
Funding start 2020
Funding type Grant
Website www.smartstart.org.za 

 

Impact

Context

  • 1 million children (ages 3 – 4 years) in low income communities in South Africa do not have access to early learning opportunities
  • Early Childhood Development (ECD) is often neglected thereby setting children on a back-foot for their entire educational and employment attainment
  • Where ECD centers do exist in low-income communities, these are poorly resourced and provide the bare minimum in terms of social, academic, and emotional learning

Solution

  • SmartStart aims to achieve population-level change in access to early learning by providing an integrated national delivery platform which builds in the operational structures and systems required for accelerated scale
  • Through an innovative social franchise model, SmartStart’s implementing partners (existing ECD service providers and NGOs) license and support a network of early learning practitioners to deliver evidence-based learning programs to 3 – 5-year old children
  • Fidelity and quality are safeguarded at the program level through trainings, operational tools, play & learning materials, coach-led quality assurance processes and a network of ‘clubs’ that provide peer support
  • Beyond enhancing access to quality early learning, SmartStart is also supporting skills development and micro-enterprise by stimulating economic activities in under-resourced communities and creating additional work opportunities for women in these communities

Impact depth

  • Since its inception in 2015, SmartStart has been able to reach over 76’000 children and provided an income-generating opportunity to over 4,000 entrepreneurs (Franchisees)
  • An independent evaluation found that 62% of SmartStart learners were achieving the expected standard for their age within 6 months; compared to 32% at baseline
  • By 2030, SmartStart plans to provide quality early learning to 1 million children annually across South Africa

SDGs

By investing in SmartStart, we align with and contribute to Goals 4 (Quality Education) and 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth) of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.