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We improve standards of private daycares in Nairobi's slums. By mentoring and investing in daycare owners, we help their businesses provide better services and become more profitable - benefitting owners, children in their care and parents alike.

Tiny Totos is a social enterprise working to improve private daycares in Nairobi's slums. Recognizing that private, unregulated daycares are essentially poorly-run capital-constrained businesss, we focus on the entrepreneurial drive of the owner-managers to run better, more profitable businesses. We provide the missing finance needed to build daycares' capacity and facility in exchange for owners agreeing to open themselves to scrutiny and meet standards of service. We take daycare partners through stages of support to demonstrate commitment and avoid institutional dependency. Our franchisee Tiny Totos daycares set market standards for all daycares to aspire to. The end outcome is improved care for the preschool children attending them

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We are already testing our idea through partnerships with 4 slum-based privately-run daycares in Nairobi and are greatly encouraged that our idea will work.  The process we are engaged in right now is working to synthesize the support services provided and modality of engagement with daycares to ensure that they are clear throughout that we are not a charity, but a business incubator or mentorship venture whose goal is to improve their businesses' operations, not to sustain or maintain them.  Private daycares do not only exist because children need to be looked after; they exist because unskilled women need income and looking after children is perhaps the most obvious strategy for them to pursue.  When they do, we want to give them discrete technical and capital support to run a better business with the end result, a better product for their clients.  With an absent government, parents used to receiving little if any support, and the children the one who suffer, we recognize that entrepreneurship is the best way to find a cost-effective solution to the inescapable reality of prolific private businesses filling the need for daycare services in slums.

Who will benefit from this idea and where are they located?

Preschool children living in slums in Nairobi - the most vulnerable in society. Half of Nairobi's 3 million inhabitants live in slums - half of these again are children. 70% of slum families are headed by single women who have no choice but to go to work to feed their families. When they do, the fate of the 250,000+ preschool children in their homes is precarious at best. By proving this model of affordable, enterprise-driven business improvement, incubatino and mentorship in Nairobi, we moreover expect we can readily replicate the Tiny Totos franchse and business-in-a-box training programme throughout Kenya, East Africa and beyond.

How could you test this idea in a quick and low-cost way right now?

We need more help in designing a readily understandable and highly affordable school management programme involving curriculum, reporting systems, safety standards, health and growth monitoring interventions and so forth. We need a replicable and attractive manual to approach prospective new parnters with. Our current effort also involves an attempt to monitor the impacts on child development indices which attending our franchisee schools generates, but we are not experts in this space and could do with help to make the monitoring better. We could therefore do with help to design these systems better, so that they are more attractive, user-friendly and readily replicable.

What kind of help would you need to make your idea real?

As above, expert design support to improve packaging and prioritization of the reporting, monitoring and other systems we include. These should not be only limited to daycare management and child stimulation, but also include topics on key support for the parents who we also wish to engage in the awareness building effort - so they too have better tools to care for their children with. Having supported a couple of parent teacher meetings with the 4 partners we are working with (1 started in 2013 - 3 in September 2014) we have seen the great level of enthusiasm of parents to learn, build skills (eg first aid) and get involved, so our Tiny Totos outreach and institutional improvement programme needs to include them as well. Systems and content design support would be really helpful in that regard, or it could all get too big for us to manage and difficult for us to prioritize and replicate.

Is this an idea that you or your organization would like to take forward?

  • Yes. I am ready and interested in testing this idea and making it real in my community.

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Photo of Chioma Ume
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Hi Emma! Thanks for sharing your idea! You might be interested in taking a look at one of the winning ideas from our Women's Safety Challenge, Kidogo: https://openideo.com/challenge/womens-safety/funded-impact/kidogo-mama-preneur-microfranchising They've just opened their first daycare centre in Nairobi - have you come across them yet?

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