Early Childhood Development (ECD) is one of South Africa’s biggest challenges. Many education centres in marginalised communities across the country are simply not sufficiently equipped, well-trained, adequately resourced, professionally managed or supported to ensure that the young children in their care receive quality education most critical to their educational, social and emotional development.
Local non-profit organisation and social enterprise, GROW Educare Centres, is changing the status quo. They are helping ECD Centres in low-income areas through social-franchising partnerships and setting them up for success as sustainable businesses.
Empowering educare centres to deliver exceptional education
Managing an ECD centre is a complex business. The GROW Educare Centres social franchise model invests in local entrepreneurs/franchisees who already run creches. Specifically by providing them with the necessary tools, processes and ongoing support needed to deliver five-star early learning for preschool children aged between two and five years.
“GROW cares deeply about ensuring that children from underprivileged communities receive the best education in their most crucial years. We also understand that the only way quality can be maintained is if centres are financially sustainable, accessible, supportive of job creation and teachers are paid what they’re worth,” says Tracey Chambers, CEO for GROW Educare Centres.
“We provide women who have a heart for children and head for business with a complete recipe for ECD success. Our proven franchise model significantly improves the educational outcomes for children. Additionally ensuring that each business owner can run a professional and financially viable business.”
In January this year, 15 new GROW Educare Centres franchises across Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban and Pietermaritzburg opened their doors after months of preparation and support including infrastructure upgrades and teacher training.
Social-franchising that ensures quality is maintained at scale
With 44 centres situated nationwide, the GROW Educare Centres organisation is currently helping over 1720 children in 89 classrooms grow and learn every day, while supporting more than 220 jobs in education.
“Most owners of educare centres in low-income areas find it challenging to access training, resources, a proper curriculum, and meet registration requirements, all with very limited business experience. Social-franchising solves all of these problems and can be replicated at scale,” adds Chambers.
To achieve socially beneficial ends such as poverty relief and job creation, social-franchising adapts the proven principles of the traditional business network model of franchising to suit the needs of small businesses in low-income communities.
Applications for new ECD franchises now open
In building a recognised and aspirational brand of professionally run and impactful ECD centres, GROW Educare Centres are expanding nationally. They are calling on creche, educare and ECD centre owners in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg to come onboard.
“We look forward to hearing from motivated applicants who’d like to make a difference in early childhood development and want to be leaders and role models in their communities,” says Chambers.
She concludes; “We want to help ECD centre owners achieve success in education and business. Both quality early learning, as well as job creation, are key to eradicating poverty and inequality in our country. By working together, as partners we’ve been able to help centres across South Africa enhance their offering drastically. While also making education accessible in developing neighbourhoods.”
Applications close on 14 March 2020. For more information and to apply online, visit their site.
Why is ECD so important?
Early Childhood Development (ECD) is the crucial phase of a child’s life between 0 and 5 years of age. This is the phase when a child’s brain is the most flexible and eager to learn.
High-quality ECD creates the foundation for school readiness. It also improves a country’s economic viability by supporting working families. It results in proven lifelong gains for the child and their future families.
The Early Childhood Development report released by Statistics South Africa in February 2018 shows that of the nearly 8.2 million children aged between 0 and 6 years old, almost 46% live in low-income households. About half of these children do not attend ECD facilities. For those children who do, the problem is not access but the quality of the education. As for the home environment, a large percentage of children are growing up in homes that do not provide adequate communication or play to stimulate learning.