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MIF to help Colombia increase access to early childhood development services

$1 million MIF grant to kick-start a franchise of early childhood services by Fundación Carulla

The Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF), a member of the IDB Group, is partnering with Fundación Carulla in Colombia to create a franchise of high-quality early childhood services for low-income households in the country.

Such franchise program will help Colombia meet critical demand for early childhood services, which have shown to improve the development of physical, cognitive, social and emotional capabilities of pre-school children. During 2008, only 32 percent of children under the age of 5 attended a community center, day care, or preschool in the country. The attendance rate is even lower in rural areas, with only 20 percent of children attending an early development center.

Moreover, the franchise will provide Fundación Carulla with royalties that will be used to finance the provision of services to early childhood development services for the most vulnerable and poor households in the country that cannot pay for them.

With a grant of $1 million from the MIF, Fundación Carulla will finance the creation of the first two centers in this franchise, allowing it to access the feasibility of such strategy. The franchise is aimed at low-income households that can afford to pay for the services but are looking for better care and education for their children.

The Fundación Carulla is a highly regarded non-profit foundation dedicated to the development and improvement of early childhood development services in Colombia. It has a proven track record of performance and strong capacity to implement this program.

To operate ECD services as part of the franchise model, Fundacion Carulla requires that franchisees adhere to high-quality standards including training and quality assurance. To program participants social franchises offer benefits such as investment in physical capital, taking part in supply chains, advertising and worker training and supervision as well as the ability to replicate best practices, scale up programs, and decrease transaction and start up costs.

In only two years Fundación Carulla has opened 10 centers around the country serving 2,700 children and creating 220 jobs. With the addition of the sustainable franchises, Fundacion Carulla envisions becoming one of the leaders in early childhood development services by 2017, through its aeioTU brand name, serving at least 7,000 children (between 3 months and 5 years of age) in 35 childcare centers throughout the country.

The project will also work with other providers, suppliers, universities and government at the national and local levels to share results and promote awareness of the benefits of early childhood education.