The A to Z of starting your own early childhood development centre

There is a tremendous demand for quality Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres in South Africa, but because of a lack of supply, thousands of young children still miss out on a solid foundation during the most important stage of their development.

This provides a great opportunity for entrepreneurial-minded people to establish ECD centres in their communities, but anyone interested in doing so should ensure that they not only get the right training and qualifications, but also that they are compliant with the rules and regulations governing ECD centres, an education expert says.

“Starting an ECD centre – whether it be a crèche, daycare centre, preschool, or aftercare facility - is a great way to own your own business, while contributing to your community in an exceptionally meaningful way,” says Nomawabo May, Team Leader: Student Advisor Department at Oxbridge Academy.

“But you have to go about it the right way, as not doing so can have severe consequences not only for yourself, but also for the young children in your care,” she says.

According to Stats SA, 46.9% of young children are not attending an educational institution, despite the fact that the first 1000 days of a child’s life are the most important to unlocking their life-long potential.

May says starting one’s own ECD centre isn’t as easy as opening your doors to a group of children and trying to keep them busy during the day, and there are a few steps one should go through before making the decision to do so.

“You have to ensure that you have a proper business plan in place, along with the financing to get started. It is worth keeping in mind that if you can show you are in line with regulations, have proper training, and are qualified to provide a supportive and enabling environment for the children under your care, you may be able to access government or private sector funding.”