We empower qualified, passionate women to own and run successful high quality ECD centres in low-income communities through our proven social franchise model.


In 2014 we launched GROW Educare Centres. The initiative was born from a deep desire among a group of social entrepreneurs to address the lack of access to quality early childhood development (ECD) education in marginalised communities in South Africa. GROW Educare Centres is a collaborative partnership between The Clothing Bank and Grow Learning Company. We believe that providing quality ECD education to the majority of South African children has the potential to change the future of South Africa for good.

GROW Educare Centres is a non-profit social enterprise. We use a proven recipe for success to equip women to run 5 Star Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres that are also financially sustainable businesses.

 We believe that:
  1. excellent preschool education should be accessible and affordable in every neighbourhood.
  2. qualified teachers and centre owners should be paid fairly.
That’s why we are changing the status quo in the ECD sector by partnering with ECD owners to offer quality and professionalism that under-resourced communities have never seen before. We have developed and tested a recipe for success (a social-franchise operating model) which is proven to improve education and business outcomes in early learning centres. This model has been successfully replicated to 43 centres in four cities across South Africa and is available to ECD Centres through our 5 Steps to 5-Star Journey. We believe that ECD centres in disadvantaged communities should be able to provide children with the quality learning they need to set them up for success while also providing sustainable jobs for educators.

Each educare centre we partner with is fully equipped to ensure that every aspect of the business is managed professionally.

Uniquely, right from the start, we held in a grand vision of creating a model that could scale and be replicated in every neighbourhood. That’s why we use the principles of franchising in a non-profit context to create a proven business model that we can share with ECD owners. We kept testing this model until we could prove that GROW’s recipe for success empowers female business owners of ECD centres to be capable and confident to run independent, sustainable businesses and become true community champions for education. Our initiative equips women to have a sustainable livelihood by giving her access to viable economic activities. To achieve profound transformation and empowerment, we have designed a social-franchise model, which is a simple, replicable business model for ECD.
In 2014 we opened our first centres in Langa, Cape Town and by 2017 we launched in Durban. Thanks to the generous support of local and international funders and partners, we have been able to continually test, refine and improve our model to ensure it delivers a holistic solution and is, crucially, scalable.

In 2019 we opened our first four ECD centres in Johannesburg. We also started developing the technology to equip our programme and our ECD partners to manage their preschools from the palm of their hand.

In 2020 we launched our data-free online learning programme for teachers as well as our comprehensive ECD management system and mobile app. At the same time, COVID-19 flooded into South Africa, and we needed to support our 43 ECD centres through the COVID-19 crisis. During this process we realised that many more ECD centres need our support and that our technology could benefit the sector as a whole. We had to find a way to reach more ECD centres faster without compromising on the quality of our service.

In 2021 we launched our 5 Steps to 5-Star model which allows more ECD centres to join the GROW programme faster, giving them access to our free app, technology, tools and support, and allows them to progress at their own pace.

In 2022 we launched ECD Finance to allow preschools to afford an investment in their small businesses. We also launched an online curriculum, a data-free interactive lesson plan guide to support teachers across the country.

We’ll keep growing and learning and serving until quality early learning education becomes a reality for all the children of South Africa.


5 Star early learning in every neighbourhood, that unlocks human potential.

We empower qualified, passionate women to own and run successful high quality ECD centres in low-income communities through our proven social franchise model.


To ensure that quality early learning is accessible, affordable and sustainable in every neighbourhood, we need to change the status quo in the ECD sector by:

  • leveraging technology as a tool to democratise access to tools and resources
  • driving data-driven decision making across the ECD sector.  
  • collaborating with sector stakeholders for scale and shared impact. 
  • developing ECD Centres into sustainable, women-owned small businesses.
  • equipping teachers and ECD owners with our comprehensive recipe for success (“Business-in-a-Box” and “Education-in-a-Box” components). 
  • engaging parents to drive demand from the bottom up for quality early learning in their neighbourhoods.
  • bringing new forms of affordable finance into the sector to reduce reliance on philanthropic capital. 

BBBEE and tax benefits

We can offer companies significant points on their Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment scorecard thanks to our focus on growing small, black-women-owned business and empowering the unemployed through skills development. Our programme directly supports the advance empowerment of black people through Socio-Economic Development (SED). Individuals also benefit from tax relief when they make financial donations.

  • SED (Socio-Economic Development) points
  • YES for Youth (we can host unemployed youth as teacher interns on your behalf)
  • Section 18A tax certificates
  • 100% black beneficiaries
  • 100% female beneficiaries


2013 - Pan African Award for Entrepreneurship in Education

2013 - Ashoka Changemakers Award

2015 - Western Cape Business Woman of the Year Award for Social Entrepreneurship

2016 - Schwab Social Entrepreneur of the Year

2017 - Western Cape Premier’s Entrepreneurship Recognition Award

2018 - Ashoka Fellowship

2021 - The Clothing Bank Group (which includes GROW Educare Centres) is listed as one of the Top 100 Corporate Ready Social Enterprises globally in the Acumen report. 

Company details:

GW Foundation NPC

NPO number 161-786NPO

PBO number 930048936