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Grow ECD expands with a satellite branch in Gqeberha.

A new Grow ECD satellite branch has opened in Gqeberha, bringing this impactful programme’s in-person Early Childhood Development (ECD) services to the Eastern Cape. Grow ECD is a nationwide, non-profit social enterprise that equips and connects ECD businesses with the skills, support and resources they need to provide affordable, 5-star early learning for local children.

Until now, Eastern Cape ECD centres have been able to use some of the free digital services Grow ECD offers, specifically, a mobile app (the Giraffe app) that equips owners with tools, resources and online training to run a more professional preschool, save time on admin and engage parents. Now, the new satellite branch assist ECD centres with an in-person ECD Business Accelerator training course and a Small Business Programme (which includes a curriculum, classroom kit, training and mentoring).

Tracey Chambers, co-founder of Grow ECD, says, “We are delighted to finally provide more support to Gqeberha. We are especially grateful to local stakeholders and partners who have guided and welcomed us. We’re confident that our programmes positively impact and complement the meaningful work that local ECD organisations are already doing.”

Since its launch in 2023, more than 700 preschool owners have completed the ECD Business Accelerator. In February, the first course kicked off in Gqeberha with 12 participants. The Accelerator is a six-part course where ECD centre owners get taught the essential skills they need to manage their preschool centres like businesses, improve sustainability and improve the quality of education at their centres.


Chambers says, “The course is designed to help ECD centre owners who have a heart for children develop a head for business and understand what it takes to provide quality early learning for children. This golden thread spans the entire process to ensure that participants build personal leadership and financial skills; learn about business sustainability; and understand the ECD registration process and what is expected from a quality ECD centre.”


The ECD Business Accelerator training course requires participants to attend six full-day sessions over six weeks (usually on a Friday or Saturday). The course includes in-depth notes, practical applications and a certificate of completion. According to ECD centre owners who completed the course 35% report an improvement in their understanding and skills to run a more sustainable business and a 17% improvement in their personal agency, vision and leadership of their centre. They also report a 33% improvement in their ability to manage personal and business finances.


These results are echoed in Gqeberha. Chambers says, “The feedback we received from our first Accelerator course in Gqeberha was excellent. It was such a success that we will run another course in the city starting on Saturday, 4 May.”


Charlene Robertson, owner of Twinkle Day Care with 63 children attended the course, which was hosted at Uviwe Child and Youth Services. She says, “Before starting this course, I didn’t know if my business was profitable. I just spent money without keeping track of it. I learnt how to manage my money in terms of budgeting, spending and saving. Now I will take the necessary steps to get registered. I will use the Giraffe app, manage my money better and do my best to provide quality learning.”


Macyleen Maboi, owner of Little Ones Learning Preschool with 17 kids, says, “My challenge was my business was not separate from my own personal finances. I was also not budgeting properly.  I learned that my preschool is a business, and I must start running it as one and be able to manage my finances. Since the course, I have rearranged my space to make sure the kids have enough space and have gotten rid of unnecessary things taking up space. I have also started recording all my finances (income and expenses) and separating it from my own personal finances.”


Fundisiwe Trelvy Mphande, owner of Paidion Elementary School with 33 kids, also completed the Accelerator course. “The challenge I had before I came here was handling money. The best thing I learnt is how to invest the money, and never make debt to pay debt. From now on, I will budget before I do anything and I will add the curriculum from Grow ECD to my centre,” she says.

 Chambers emphasised the potential impact of this training, “From January last year until March 2024, 796 ECD centre owners have signed up for this course. 97% of these centres are owned and operated by women and they care for and educate over 21 500 learners under the age of 5”. She continued, “This makes the Accelerator a valuable investment for those wanting to make a sustainable difference for ECD centres. We welcome ECD organisations and local businesses to join us in getting more ECD centre owners through this course”.

 ECD centre owners, register for the next Grow ECD Accelerator training course in Gqeberha in May

 Applications are open for the next Accelerator starting on Saturday, 4 May

What you learn in the Accelerator course:

  • Personal leadership
  • How to manage your money
  • How to run your preschool like a business
  • How to achieve sustainability
  • What it takes to provide quality early learning
  • The steps to get registered
  • How to work smarter, using technology
  • How to access ECD finance to grow your business

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