South African innovation catalyst and investment platform, Innovation Edge, has launched a new call for funding applications. They are looking for early-stage entrepreneurs and startups with innovative edtech ventures with a focus on early learning for children under the age of 6.

Both a child’s participation in an early learning programme and their home environment influence their developmental level prior to entering school. A 2020 study found that over half of all parents interviewed had between one and five children’s books in their home, while 40% said that they have none. Statistics South Africa’s General Household Survey provides similarly concerning results: 35% of respondents reported that they never told stories to their young children and 47% never read books to them.

When it comes to early learning programmes or preschool centres; learning materials are the brick and mortar of a teacher’s lesson. Evidence shows that what benefits children the most in early learning environments is positive teacher-child interactions and stimulating content, which facilitates these interactions. In South Africa, there is a problem with both the quantity and quality of materials.

“We may not have enough resources in our homes or in our early learning programmes; but what we do have in South Africa, is a high proliferation of mobile phones. Edtech solutions offer an unmissable opportunity to support parents and teachers in providing young children with critical early learning skills. The educational foundations built during the first six years of a child’s life determines the success of all future learning inputs. If we want children to thrive at school and beyond, we need to be doing our utmost to make sure their ability to learn is being built right from the start of life,” Nicole Biondi, Head of Marketing and Communications, Innovation Edge.

Innovation Edge is an impact-first investor focused on solving early childhood challenges in South Africa. They want to fund and support edtech ventures that will help parents and/or teachers give children solid early learning foundations. Their call for applications from entrepreneurs or startups with innovative edtech ventures was launched on 1 October and runs until 31 October 2021.

Successful ventures will receive up to R1.3m each in grant funding, strategic coaching, customised operational support and connections to social capital.

Selected applicants will be supported to pitch their solutions to the Innovation Edge Investment Committee. Successful ventures will receive up to R1.3 million each in grant funding, strategic coaching, customised operational support and connections to social capital. The deadline for submissions is 31 October 2021.

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