'Mama-preneurs' offer affordable childcare

By Gem Childe on 15th Feb 2017


Rather than young children being crammed into childcare venues in dust huts for hours on end with poor sanitation, inadequate food and little interaction, Kidogo is part of a growing international movement trying to set an example for other local childcare operators.

It provides training for women in the sector and is currently working with five “mama-preneurs”, teaching them about finance, hygiene and nutrition.

The Overseas Development Institute estimates that at least 35.5 million children under the age of five worldwide are being left alone or with other young children while their parents work.

Even those who are supervised are not stimulated enough - research shows their cognitive potential is affected because of poor early-life care. Girls are disproportionately affected, as are often taken out of their education to care for younger siblings.

However, working for low-income customers means profit margins are slim: Kidogo’s fee of up to £14 a month is already at the higher end of what most parents pay in the area.

Umesh Malhotra, co-founder of Indian educational company Hippocampus, runs 316 centres in rural India and keeps costs at £5 to £9 a month by streamlining processes and training its own teachers.

He said: “When you are for-profit your client must come first and this ensures we are delivering value to both parents and children."

Michelle Neuman, programme director at the Results for Development Institute, an international development NGO, said: “It is likely that public-private partnerships will meet equity and quality objectives better than relying only on fully private solutions."

Naomi Cassirer, a consultant specialising in maternity protection policy, said: "Workplace solutions bring together innovative partnerships to share costs and responsibilities among various partners."

Kidogo is now exploring this option, and hoping to partner with companies interested in covering the small cost of their workers’ childcare as a way to boost the productivity of working mothers.