Our Investment Process.

Investing in innovative early stage ventures can be an exciting and rewarding experience. At IE, we offer two distinct investment platforms: ECD Catalyst and Venture Build.

We work with eligible entrepreneurs and social innovators across both platforms, each of which represents a different phase of the entrepreneurial journey, catering to various needs and goals.

ECD Catalyst.

Our ECD Catalyst is a key to pipeline building for our Venture Build. In the Catalyst platform, we empower and nurture the initial ideas into innovative ventures that can thrive independently. All our ECD Catalysts participants receive financial assistance for a duration of three to six months. Moreover, we offer tailored non-financial support to align with their desired outcomes throughout their participation.

Venture Build.

In the Venture Build phase, we work closely with candidates who meet our investment criteria and have the ability to achieve their vision. Our team thoroughly evaluates each candidate to ensure that their goals and values align with our impact requirements. The Venture Build candidates would have been able to prove the commercial and/ or social enterprise outcomes that the ECD Catalyst aims to support. These candidates are more mature than the ECD Catalyst candidates, but are still in the early-stages of their entrepreneurial development. Through Venture Build, we provide potential solutions for stability, sustainability and scalability. For all our social enterprises, we provide support to testing product or impact fit, developing their impact model (including theory of change) and building a business model that is fit for scale.

Our investment process.

1 Application

Through a range of creative tactics, we’re constantly searching for potential investees who meet our investment criteria.

Entrepreneurs and social innovators who wish to apply for support fill out an application through our website portal.

We also run campaigns focused on attracting innovations in an area of interest in the ECD space. Candidates respond to the call by applying on our website portal.

2 Conversation

Promising applicants are invited to have a conversation with our team – we know that not everyone is equally equipped to bring across their brilliance through the written word.

If the conversation goes well, we begin the preparation of an investment case for our Investment Committee.

We also identify social entrepreneurs that may be eligible for funding, approaching them to establish fit, and engaging with them and co-creating opportunities for funding.

3 Meetups

We meet with our Investment Committee 4 times a year. Investments approved at these meetings enter our investment portfolio and access our customised financial and non-financial support.

We aim to make 6 to 10 new investments per year and reinvest in ventures that demonstrate potential.


Our Investment Criteria

Our investment criteria require that candidates show evidence of the following before an opportunity can be considered eligible for our support:


  • The objective of the venture should be to positively impact the lives of children aged 0 to 6.
  • Ventures should focus on serving the ‘underserved missing middle’ segment (household monthly income – R7.8k to R20k).
  • The solution must target customers who are willing and can afford to pay for the service.
  • The presented solution should aim to address a problem within one or more of our impact areas.
  • The candidate should confirm that their organisation is legally incorporated.

Other requirements and key metrics for our investments

Leadership demographics: Promotion of diversity and having a significant black leadership team is considered a key metric for our investment.

Team presentation: The organisation must have a strong co-founding team that has achieved early traction, and must show a deep understanding of the problem they aim to solve. It is necessary to show proof of testing successful solutions as this proactively confirms a solutionist mindset of the team. The opportunity being presented for funding needs to be the primary focus of the co-founding team.

Innovation: There must be early evidence of competitive advantage in product design or execution of product offering.

Business model: Whether for-profit or not-for-profit, the organisation must show an appreciation for a sustainability perspective. The team must show evidence of the execution of a go-to-market strategy to be able to understand whether the organisation’s value proposition is understood and appreciated by customers or beneficiaries.