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Opportunity Hub.

The Innovation Edge & Grow Great Made to Measure Challenge.

We’ve been looking for an error-proof tool for community health workers (CHWs) to accurately measure, record and monitor the length of children (aged birth to 2.)

The successful idea or proven concept will receive up to R1 million in funding, join the Innovation Edge portfolio of investments and get connected to an international community of change makers and investors.

Submissions are currently being reviewed.

Scroll down for details.

 

Background info.

The period between 0 and 6 in a child’s life is characterised by rapid growth. This is especially true for the first 1000 days (the period from conception to a child’s second birthday.)

These early years offer an opportunity to establish a strong foundation for lifelong academic success, health and general well-being. However, it is also a period of vulnerability to stunting.

The prevalence of stunting in South Africa is embarrassingly high, with stunting rates estimated at 27% (1 in 4 children.) This is far higher than would be expected of an upper middle-income country such as ours, and far higher than many of our developing country counterparts.

What exactly is stunting?

Stunting is a condition that arises from prolonged undernutrition and it affects both physical and brain development. It’s defined as shortness in height for a child’s age and it can only be diagnosed by comparing the child’s measurements to standardized growth charts.

Stunting stops children from reaching their full growth potential and puts them at risk of living in poverty and unemployment as adults.

The specific problem for this challenge.

 

When it comes to stunting, there is a lack of good and sufficiently detailed data being gathered by health workers on the ‘nutritional status’ of children, particularly stunting between the ages of birth and 2 years.

We are simply not identifying children at risk early enough to act on it. This makes it difficult to target interventions and focus programmes and resources on at-risk communities.

 In order to determine if a child is at risk of stunting, a health worker has to calculate a child’s age, measure their length using a standard operating procedure, correctly plot the length on a standardised growth chart and lastly interpret the growth curve.

The reliance on an individual’s ability to correctly perform all of the above increases the margin for human error. Many children at risk are therefore not identified.

The measurement of length is critical as stunting can only be diagnosed by comparing a child’s length to standardised growth charts.

Because of the challenges of accurate measurement, the linear growth of children between the ages of birth and 2 is not being captured as frequently as it could be.

The Challenge Brief.

In partnership with the Grow Great campaign, Innovation Edge is seeking ideas and/or proven concepts for a human error-proof tool that allows for accurate growth measurement, recording and monitoring of length in children aged birth – 2.

Grow Great is a multi-funder initiated campaign that aims to galvanise South Africa towards a national commitment to achieving zero stunting in our country by 2030.

Innovation Edge is an innovation catalyst and social impact investor. We take a hands-on approach to supporting unconventional ideas that aim to transform early life experiences for children, aged 0 to 6, living in poverty.

Things you should know:

  1. Growth monitoring (length/height, weight and mid upper-arm circumference) is currently performed by a range of healthcare professionals. The primary target users for this tool are Community Health Workers (CHWs.)
  2. Currently in South Africa, CHWs do not commonly perform growth monitoring of children, because they are not equipped with the skills or the tools to do so.
    3. The tool should also be usable by health care professionals (such as nurses) at primary care facilities (clinics) in South Africa.
  3. In facilities, babies and children are measured lying down flat using a recumbent measuring board.
  4. When you place young children on their backs they often bend their legs, wave their arms and wriggle around, which makes the capturing of accurate measurements challenging.
  5. CHWs work in communities, travelling on foot from door-to-door. The tool must therefore be easily portable.
  6. CHWs work in underserved communities, where considerations of space and lighting should be taken into account when designing an intervention that assures accuracy.
  7. Data and connectivity constraints – the tool will be used in both rural and urban home settings and may be used outside – so if technology is part of your solution, it needs to function offline.
  8. All children in South Africa receive a Road to Health booklet (RTHB) when they are born. Their growth is captured in this booklet on various standardised growth charts. 
Submission Requirements
  • The idea or proven concept must convincingly demonstrate how the solution to the challenge will be reached, sustained and scaled without compromising quality.
  • It must prove how human error-proof accuracy will be achieved.
  • It should be SMART – specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound i.e. proof of concept can be executed within a year.
  • It must be innovative in that it finds an entirely new way of doing things or repurposes an existing solution in order to solve the challenge
  • It has to have an enthusiastic and skilled person/team behind it
  • The solution can come from anywhere in the world, but the implementation must be able to happen in South Africa
Evaluation Process
  • Our Portfolio Management and Grow Great campaign teams will assess submissions against the submission requirements and select the most promising applications during the first and second weeks of May 2019.
  • After input from the Innovation Edge and Grow Great Directors, a final selection will be made by end May 2019.
  • The successful applicant/s will be invited to work on an investment case for presentation to our Investment Committee during June 2019. This includes diving deeper into the business model, theory of change and scaling strategy.
  • 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 & Conditions
  • Applications will be assessed based on the Submission Requirements and using the Evaluation Process stated above.
  • The release of funding for successful applications happens in tranches linked to milestones over the investment period.
  • 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.