Conception to Career Fund.

Impact Area:

Cross Cutter

Year of Investment and Stage:

2016 | Early Proof of Concept

Current Stage

Early Proof of Concept

Investment Amount:

<R500 000

Financial Instrument:


Have we reinvested:



Closed, Inactive

The Conception to Career fund seeks to raise significant additional funding for ECD and to transform the way in which development funding is channelled to put choice and accountability within the hands of the consumer.

The Problem

The National Development Plan (NDP) is the blueprint for the South African Government’s nation building initiatives. It highlights education as a critical element for nation building and recognises the importance of investing in early childhood education. While the NDP requires that different government departments and public entities contribute towards social cohesion and nation building, there is currently no vehicle to coordinate private sector contributions to the NDP. The Nation Building Fund – established by Empowerdex – will be this vehicle. It is a private equity fund owned by the citizens of South Africa. The contributions of the private sector will be complementary to the public sector interventions of government – it is never the intention of the NBF to ‘crowd out’ the work of government. The challenge and opportunity lies in building the systems infrastructure needed to channel NBF resources into early childhood development.

The Innovation

Innovation Edge is supporting the development and implementation of the Education component of the NBF which aims to improve education outcomes by increasing the ability of South Africans to access the goods and services they need to progress well through life.

This increased access will be in the form of digital coupons allocated directly to targeted individuals that can be used from the first 1000 days through to the job seeking phase of life – from Conception to Career (C2C).

These coupons will then be accepted by approved and accredited NGOs and private service providers. The C2C coupon concept pivots the focus from enabling the providers of goods and services, towards the consumers of those goods and services – the individual and their families.

C2C will lead to improved efficiency of the allocation of resources in the economy and spur economic growth and job creation. It will facilitate access for the most under-resourced communities to their most critical needs and increase quality and levels of accountability by service providers.

Why we Invested

C2C has the potential to significantly increase the pool of funding available for ECD in South Africa and to transform the way in which funding is administered. C2C will empower poor caregivers in remote and under-resourced parts of the country by placing the command of life choices in their hands. This approach to funding ECD services has the potential to be transformational. When the individuals (consumers) rather than the providers (suppliers) are given the agency to direct resources to the goods and services that they need through life, the market for quality goods and services will be directly stimulated. The public sector will receive information as to where the greatest needs are; and the private sector and NGOs will be able to identify and move into gaps, where few or no options are currently available. Enabling this through the use of digital vouchers, smart contracts and mobile technology provides the mechanism for scale.

The Project Team

The Bulungula Incubator is a not-for-profit organisation providing integrated rural development programmes in a remote part of the former Transkei region of the Eastern Cape. Empowerdex’s mission is to promote the growth of businesses that operate in Africa. It is the lead fundraiser for the Nation Building Fund.