The ECD Apps Launchpad.

The ECD Apps Launch Pad seeks to develop an ecosystem of mobile early learning applications that share a common technology infrastructure, with a modular architecture that allows for cost effective customisation and scale.

The need

Early Childhood Development (ECD) experts often enlist the help of software developers for the creation of mobile apps. In many cases, the developers have relatively little understanding of ECD and the target market.

In addition, the support tends to be contract based, making it difficult to undertake changes to the app at a later stage without incurring further costs. In these circumstances, good products may fail to gain traction and become obsolete.

What if there was a platform that was able to house and facilitate a range of ECD apps?

The innovation

The ECD Apps Launchpad seeks to develop an ecosystem of ECD apps that share a common infrastructure, with a modular architecture that allows for cost-effective customization.

Organisations wanting to develop a branded application will be able to build on the existing platform with access to its full suite of functionalities, enabling them to develop their App at a fraction of the full cost.

As these apps scale, there will be a natural cross-subsidisation leading to reduced costs in the longer term.  The Launchpad will also foster a culture of sharing of best practice, allowing partner organisations to share new ideas and quickly refine existing content.

One of the most powerful features of an ecosystem approach is the ability to track users over time (as they progress through the different age-specific applications). This will produce valuable longitudinal data, enabling stakeholders to better track progress in levels of participation amongst parents and teachers.

Initial applications being developed on the Launchpad include CareUp, The Wordworks App, Bird Seed and MathsUp

Key insights

A common theme emerging across the platform is the need for benchmarking data to give stakeholders a point of reference to judge the performance of applications. Orientating stakeholders around what ‘low’ or ‘high’ levels of uptake and engagement are is critical as it relates to the perceived success of the applications.

In response, Reach Trust has developed a reporting format that includes benchmarking data on uptake, usage and retention levels.  As the number of apps on the Launchpad itself grows, comparative data will become more readily available.

The following key learnings with regards to uptake and engagement have emerged over the last quarter:

  • Onboarding events are critical in driving levels of uptake and a reasonable sized team (6-8 staff to 100 attendees) is needed to optimize sign-up.
  • The tech-savviness of many potential users are low and significant support is required.
  • The retention of users requires continuous support and is influenced by many variables such as individual level of motivation, income, education, geographic location. Technical support in particular is required as many users experiences challenges around upgrading to new application releases


The project team

The Reach Trust has helped more than 10 million people transform their lives through access to free education, health and counselling services on their mobile phones.