Changing the paradigm of childcare and income generation in Nairobi’s slums
Every child in the world has the right to access high-quality early childhood care and education, and every woman deserves the opportunity to participate in the workforce and generate income, free of concern that their child may not be cared for properly. This is where 2015 SEED Gender Equality Award Winner Kidogo is revolutionising the manner in which childcare and income generation for mothers is rolling out in Nairobi’s informal settlements.
With the vision of ‘a world where every child has an opportunity to reach their full potential, regardless of where they were born’, co-founders Afzal Habib and Sabrina Premji established an enterprise that seeks to improve access to high-quality, affordable, holistic childcare in Nairobi. Overwhelmed by the unsanitary and unsafe conditions in which children were being cared for at local “baby care centres”, the team at Kidogo designed an innovative ‘hub and spoke’ model. Combining play-based learning with environmental awareness, child health and nutrition, and business development support, Kidogo is changing the foundations of entrepreneurship in East Africa, while benefitting mother and child alike.
How does the innovative ‘hub’ and ‘spoke’ model operate?
Combatting the devastating lack of quality, affordable early childhood care and education in the city’s informal settlements, Kidogo has established two pilot early childhood centres, consisting of certified teachers, holistic curriculum, and health and nutrition programs, inside child-friendly, environmentally sustainable spaces that serve local communities and families.
The children who attend the centres, under the guidance of trained caregivers, gain access to valuable early childhood learning to improve their school readiness. Their health and nutritional status also improve due to a robust feeding program and early detection of key health issues. Kidogo also promotes the use of natural light & clean-tech, reducing the use of traditional cookstoves and kerosene lanterns, in turn improving the air the children breathe in at the centres and reducing environmental impact.
The majority of the Kidogo workforce is made up of young women who receive training on play-based learning, financial literacy and environmental sustainability, while also gaining access to progressive health and maternity benefits.
And at less than USD 1 per day, Kidogo is ticking every box – from sustainability to affordability.
The centres currently serve over 100 children and their families, and to date, the response from the local community has been overwhelmingly supportive: ‘I bring my child to Kidogo to get a good foundation for his future. It’s very clean, fees are somehow affordable, the children are safe, and there is good food for the kids’ said, one parent. While another stated: ‘I’ve seen the improvement in my child since I brought her to Kidogo’.
In addition to its own hubs, Kidogo provides young mothers and caregivers the opportunity to (re)enter the workforce and generate income via a ‘business in a box’ micro-franchising initiative. Local ‘mama-preneurs’ who are involved in the new franchising model are assisted in establishing new, or formalising their existing, informal childcare centres to provide quality, safe and affordable childcare while improving their income.
The franchisees gain access to locally manufactured play and learning materials and discounted supplies while receiving weekly quality improvement visits to ensure the highest standard of childcare is met. Ongoing mentorship, training in early childhood development, business skills and marketing support underpin the whole initiative, enabling the small businesses to grow and reach financial sustainability.
The franchise model has the blueprint to achieve scalability not only across Kenya but across the entire East African region.
For more information, visit the Kidogo website.
Recognised for its outstanding innovation and commitment to improving the lives and wellbeing of children and women, Kidogo has been awarded the SEED Gender Equality Award, presented at the 2015 SEED Africa Symposium in Nairobi and supported by UN Women. If you also run an innovative social and environmental enterprise, apply now for the 2016 SEED Awards!