SmartStart’s objectives

Our objective is to ensure that many more children in South Africa have age-appropriate social, emotional, learning and language skills by the time they start school. In order to achieve this, we will:

  • Improve the quality of early learning opportunities through wide implementation of an evidence-based programme.
  • Increase access to affordable early learning opportunities using a social franchise model that enables rapid replication through partnerships with ECD service providers.
  • Build awareness among parents, and drive demand for quality early learning programmes by creating a visible and trusted brand.

The importance of scale


What is a social franchise?

Social franchising is a way of replicating or scaling up a successful social programme, in order that many more people can benefit. It uses some of the systems and principles of commercial franchising, but it is fundamentally different in that the goal is to maximise social impact rather than financial profit.

The SmartStart social franchise

Under the SmartStart social franchise model there are three levels – the Hub (SmartStart), Franchisors (implementing partners) and Franchisees (SmartStarters).

SmartStart Franchisors recruit, license and support Franchisees in particular geographic areas. They also employ Club Coaches who run the network of SmartStart Clubs and oversee quality assurance.

SmartStarters operate as independent micro enterprises or community-based services, generating an income through government subsidies and stipends or through parent fees.

The Hub runs the franchise, contracting with Franchisors and providing them with training and technical assistance. We are responsible for the content of the SmartStart routine, as well as the wider programme design and materials, and provide training for Franchisees. SmartStart also defines the licensing and quality assurance systems and supplies policies and tools that enable model fidelity and efficient management of the franchise.

This model provides a structured way of managing and monitoring a nation-wide early learning programme, and enables significant cost efficiencies.

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