Opportunity Hub.

How might technology solve early childhood challenges?


Receive up to R1 million in funding for high impact, scalable solutions

Deadline : 26 Oct 2018

While we welcome submissions for any bold ideas at any time throughout the year, this call is specifically focused on tech solutions to early childhood challenges.

Respond to one or more of the idea prompts below and you could be joining the Innovation Edge portfolio of investments and getting connected to an international community of change makers and investors.

We accept submissions from individuals, non-profit and for profit organisations.

Paper-based systems of recording classroom attendance are time-consuming and lacking in accuracy.

How might you create a tech solution that enables pre-school teachers (in both high/mid and low income environments) to quickly capture verifiable classroom attendance for children aged 3 to 6 years?

Young children’s (birth to 6) brains thrive from having daily positive back and forth conversations with their parents.

Read about how parent-child interactions shape the architecture of the developing brain.

How might you create a tech solution to help parents (in both high/mid and low income environments) embed this behaviour into their daily lives?

Approximately 33% of women living in adversity will experience a mental illness (primarily depression) during or after pregnancy.

Gain insight and empathy through these stories of mothers who have suffered from depression.

What opportunities could tech offer to support mothers, particularly those in low-income environments, who are suffering from depression?

Surprise Us!

How might tech provide a solution to an early childhood problem you are aware of?

Things you might like to know.

For every one of us, the quality of our early life experiences laid the foundations for who we are today.

Innovation Edge is an early stage investor and venture builder with a mission.

We help entrepreneurs and innovators bring to life solutions for the problems faced by young children and those who care for them.

In addition to funding, our support includes:

  • Consultation on program design, implementation and evaluation
  • Mentorship and coaching
  • Workshops and in-person meetings
  • Access to our early childhood innovation network
  • Insights into the early childhood landscape in South Africa
  • Discounted access to the 2.5 day Think Future event
Evaluation Criteria
A successful submission will meet the following criteria:

  • The beneficiaries are children between the ages of 0 and 6 (this includes the period of development during pregnancy) in under-resourced South African communities
  • The idea convincingly demonstrates how the solution to the challenge will be reached, sustained and scaled without compromising quality
  • It’s SMART – specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and proof of concept can be executed within 2 years​
  • It’s innovative in that it finds an entirely new way of doing things or re-purposes an existing solution in order to solve the challenge
  • It has an enthusiastic and skilled person/team behind it

Innovations submitted for funding may be at any stage in their development journey. We do not, however, fund the actual scaling of the product.

We do aim to link products ready to scale to funders who may be able to help.

Evaluation Process
  1. Our Portfolio Management team will assess submissions against the Evaluation Criteria and select the most promising submissions.
  2. After input from the Innovation Edge Director, a final selection will be made.
  3. Successful applicants will be invited to work on an investment case  for our Investment Committee meeting on 29 Nov 2018. This includes diving deeper into the business model, theory of change and potential route(s) to scale.
  4. Once the Investment Committee has approved the investment case, we’ll draw up the funding contract. This is the final step in this process, but the beginning of an exciting journey.
Terms and Conditions
  1. Applications will be assessed against the Evaluation Criteria and using the Evaluation Process stated above.
  2. The release of funding for successful applications happens in tranches linked to milestones over the investment period.
  3. The amount of funding granted is determined by the nature of the investment. Funding of up to R1 million over a 2 year period will be considered.

Spark Bank.

We are continuously searching for ideas that have the potential to positively transform the early life experiences of young children living in poverty.

Sometimes when promising ideas emerge, we don’t have all of the pieces of the puzzle to act. In order to hold onto these ideas, we’ve created the Spark Bank.

Have a look at the ideas below and see if any of them resonate with you. Perhaps your thinking could complete the puzzle.

Biometric verification for children

There are a number of existing solutions providing biometric verification through facial recognition software…for adults. We’re in search of biometric verification solutions for children aged 3 to 5, who attend early learning centres in impoverished communities.


Turning waiting spaces into engaging places

What if spaces, particularly where parents and other caregivers have to wait for long periods of time with their children, could be transformed into places that sparked engagement?

Regular, positive interactions between caregiver and child lay the foundation in the child’s developing brain for lifelong literacy, numeracy and self-control.

Do YOU have an idea of how waiting spaces could be sustainably transformed or created to be engaging places?

Supporting young moms

The last Recorded Live Births report produced by Statistics South Africa showed that out of the 969 415 birth recorded in 2016, 136 996 were born to mothers below the age of 20.

All mothers, no matter where they’re from or what their age, need support with ways to engage with and help build their childs’ developing brain and body during the earliest years.

While there are a number of initiatives for older mothers, we’d like to explore the possibility of funding an innovative and scalable parenting support initiative particularly for mothers under the age of 20.

Perhaps you’re a young mom with an uncoventional solution on how to do this; or an enthusiastic entrepreneur with a burning idea – we would LOVE to hear from you!

Employment Opportunities.

Junior Portfolio Manager

Innovation Edge is looking to hire a Junior Portfolio Manager to join our lean and passionate team in sourcing, incubating and transitioning to scale impactful innovations.

Ideal candidates are graduates with 1-2 years experience in project-management and research-related activities. Exposure to research methodologies and monitoring and evaluation are beneficial. The role involves working in a small team, on the job learning and flexibility to take on both administrative and strategic tasks. No experience in early childhood development is required. For a more detailed job spec, visit this link

Request for Proposals: Crowdsourcing information on SA's ECD service providers

There are over 3 million children between the ages of 3 and 5 years in South Africa, 63% of whom attend some kind of group-based early care and education (ECCE) programme. Models of delivery include preschools, creches, playgroups, mobile centres and day mothers.   

No free, comprehensive, accurate and real-time database exists to provide vital information on coverage and quality of early care and education services nationally – for those providing the services, supporting the services or seeking and using the services.

To this end, a service provider is needed to determine the feasibility of crowdsourcing information on ECCE services (including day care / playgroup / creche / educare centre / preschool) from (1) Parents of children aged 0-6 years; (2) service providers located in low-income areas in South Africa; and (3) other potential data sources identified. For more information on how to submit your proposal, visit this link