Development of an Innovation Fund for ECD in South Africa

Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship


The Bertha Centre and Social Finance are developing a design and business case for an Innovation Fund for Early Childhood Development in South Africa. Impact Bonds aim to improve the effectiveness of social interventions, through establishing an outcomes-based contract where private investment is used to scale up interventions, especially early intervention and preventative services, implemented by specialised service providers. This project is currently in phase one.

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Renewable energy investing in ECD


This project uses blockchain technology to encourage and enable renewable energy independent power producers to invest in ECD services easily and efficiently. 

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Development of a South African developmental neuroscience research translation initiative

Barak Morgan

Neuroscience has given us a greater understanding of how early social conditions, especially social adversity, become biologically embedded in the developing brain with profound lifelong consequences for individuals and society. This Innovation Edge initiative aims to proactively manage how paradigm-shifting neuroscientific advances are translated and understood to make positive advances in ECD in South Africa. It aims to do this by shaping and managing the dissemination and implementation of Translation Developmental Neuroscience Research findings in diverse South African social contexts.

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Workflow boards to improve efficiency in the registration of ECD centres

Network Action Group (NAG)

nag-logoAll ECD centres in South Africa must be registered with the Department of Social Development (DSD). The current registration system is inefficient and unable to address the backlog in registration or keep up with increasing registration demand. This Innovation Edge project, a partnership between Ilifa Labantwana and the Network Action Group, involves the use of factory workflow boards at social development service offices to quantify the demand on the registration system and to engage social workers and other relevant stakeholders around key constraints.

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Computer gaming to remediate Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD)

Foundation for Alcohol Related Research (FARR)

farr-logoDrinking during pregnancy is the cause of the most common preventable form of mental disability in the world, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). FASD is associated with growth deficits, birth defects and brain damage. South Africa has the highest reported prevalence of FASD worldwide but there is a lack of remedial services for children with FASD. This project aims to develop a free and easily accessible computer game to improve the intellectual functioning of children suffering from FASD.

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Sifunda Ngokuthetha: We learn by talking together

South Africa Partners and Masibumbane Development Organisation

Early language skills are vital for children’s success. Everyday environments, like supermarkets and health clinics, offer perfect opportunities for caregivers to have conversations with children. This project aims to turn an everyday trip to a supermarket and health clinic in East London into an opportunity for enriched caregiver-child interactions. Eye-catching, colorful signs with open-ended questions will be placed at several locations within the store and clinic, prompting caregivers to start conversations with children that will expand their vocabularies and help them learn.

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Development of an Early Learning Outcomes Measure (ELOM)

Linda Biersteker, Andy Dawes, Elizabeth Girdwood

South Africa currently lacks a reliable and valid instrument to assess how early learning programmes perform in preparing children for Grade R, a soon to be compulsory preschool grade. The project team is addressing this need by developing a tool to assess children aged 54 to 66 months against a set of Early Learning and Development Standards (ELDS) that should be achieved before entering that grade. The ELOM will measure children against ELDS that are indicative of children’s readiness to learn in Grade R.

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Ukonga: using stokvels to spread ECD messages

The Ubunye Foundation and Expressive Through the Line

The project team will train and deploy community-based ECD ‘Champions’ to champion ECD at regular savings group (stokvel) meetings. Their monthly inputs will be designed around the concept of ‘just one thing’ to do with your child this month. The champions will demonstrate the importance of early stimulation and give caregivers practical resources to be used at home.

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Mobile phone crowdsourcing to register ECD centres

Code for South Africa

code4sa logoIn partnership with Code for South Africa, the Innovation Edge is testing the use of crowdsourcing through mobile phones to ensure that all ECD centres are mapped as the first step to registration with the Department of Social Development and potential funding.

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ABFAB: Parent and Practitioner Messaging


A Brighter Future for all Babies uses mobile phones to deliver coordinated messages, content and advice to early childhood development teachers and caregivers

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ECD attendance and subsidies


This project uses blockchain technology to monitor children’s pre-school attendance and automate the subsidy claims process.

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hearScreen: mobile phone hearing screening


hearScreen is developing, piloting and testing a low-cost mobile solution which identifies hearing loss in young children and links affected children to local medical professionals. This innovation meets a lack of access to hearing screening for young children in underserviced communities and mitigates the learning difficulties which result from hearing problems. 

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MomConnect ECD - mobile messaging for parents


MomConnect ECD is a mass messaging initiative which delivers text messages around early childhood development to parents of children aged 5 and younger. It builds on the Department of Health’s MomConnect platform which targets pregnant women and mothers of children aged 0-1 year. 

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Mothers Matter - engaging waiting spaces

Mothers Matter

The Mothers Matter project uses film, screened in public waiting spaces, to communicate the power and importance of the first 1000 days of life.

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Project Enable - a mobile inclusivity app


Project Enable is a digital application aimed at parents of children with disabilities and at ECD educators.  Project Enable empowers caregivers to play and teach in creative ways which include all children, regardless of their ability.

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WaziECD - a data tool for early learning

Media Monitoring Africa

WaziECD presents complex population data in a simple way with the purpose of supporting better planning of ECD services at local, district and provincial levels.

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Xander - a mobile education app


Xander is an educational mobile phone application which encourages learning through fun in a child’s home language. 

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