What We Do.
There are very few funders willing to invest in unproven, early stage ventures.
There are very few resources dedicated to experimentation and innovation in the early childhood sector.
We exist to fill these gaps.
We support social entrepreneurs and organisations to develop, test and launch innovative solutions to early childhood challenges in South Africa.
We curate the resources and join disparate dots to ignite greater innovation and entrepreneurship in the South African early childhood ecosystem.
We offer multiple rounds of funding, where the amount and type of financial instrument (incl. grants, equity and concessionary debt) is tailored to the stage of the solution.
Our customised venture support helps investees develop and test their solutions; refine and articulate their value proposition; explore pathways to scale and demonstrate social and financial return potential.
We provide valuable connections to follow-on funders and a variety of other actors well placed to support growth and sustainability
We connect diverse stakeholders to support the flow of information, talent and capital
We share insights on innovation products and processes to contribute to a collective understanding of what has and has not worked
Our investment process.
Through a range of creative tactics, we’re constantly searching for potential investees who meet our investment criteria.
Whether we find them or they find us, all applications for funding and support are made through our online application process.
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 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.
You may want to know…
What characteristics does Innovation Edge look for in investees?
We believe that innovative solutions to early childhood challenges can come from anyone, anywhere.
Investees might be seasoned or beginner entrepreneurs. They might be launching or leading a startup. They might be employed in a business or non-profit and see the opportunity for their organisation to develop or grow an innovative product or service. They might be situated in an innovation lab in an academic institution. They might even be a student fresh out of a learning institution.
We look for mission-aligned investees who are:
- Highly motivated, capable and determined
- Collaborative and accountable
- Open to coaching and have a growth mindset
- Able to think creatively and be adaptable
Who or what does Innovation Edge NOT fund?
- We do not currently fund ventures outside of South Africa
- We’re unable to support ventures that are not sustainable post Innovation Edge funding
- We will not invest in ventures that do not directly or indirectly impact the lives of children between the ages of 0 – 6 (this period includes pregnancy)
Does Innovation Edge invest in for-profit and non-profit ventures?
Yes. Our financial support (amount and instrument) is fit for purpose, tailored to the needs and profile of both for-profit and non-profit ventures. Our return expectations are driven by our impact-first approach. This means that we will make investments in impactful ventures that do not generate a financial return; that require a below-market financial return; and/or where returns are as yet unproven.
What non-financial support do investees receive?
We have a learning mindset with a high tolerance for trial and error. Our customised venture support is both pragmatic and strategic and includes access to a team of experts to help you:-
- Understand and navigate the early childhood development ecosystem
- Test your assumptions and validate your solution in an iterative way
- Build and test prototypes
- Design strategies for customer acquisition, engagement and retention
- Plan for sustainability and scale, including building a fit-for-purpose business model and team
- Demonstrate social and financial return potential
- Define and articulate your value proposition
- Connect to potential follow-on funders