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IDB finances innovative early childhood development program in Brazil for the base of the pyramid

As many as 224,000 low-income pre-school children expected to benefit from educational materials and training provided by PUPA

Pupa Empreendimentos Educacionais e Representacao Ltda, a new social business launched by Brazil’s Zoom Editora, will use a $3 million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to roll out an innovative early childhood development program that will benefit as many as 224,000 low-income pre-school children in Brazil.

PUPA will offer parents and caretakers easy to follow educational play activities through colorful magazines, LEGO toys and audio-visual aids. PUPA’s program will also train up to 56,000 caregivers in early childhood education techniques, basic nutrition and hygiene, and in the use of their interactive play materials. PUPA representatives will pay regular visits to daycares or homes to answer questions and provide support, and help ensure that materials are being used as designed.

“Stimulation through toys, blocks, music and beginner’s books is often missing in the lives of the estimated 10 million low-income pres-school children in Brazil. This project seeks to change this reality,’’ said Elizabeth Boggs Davidsen, project team leader at Opportunities for the Majority, the IDB unit responsible for financing projects that benefit the base of the pyramid.

“PUPA’s program will reach children that today do not have access to formal care centers and whose parents, relatives and caregivers lack the knowledge or tools to stimulate their cognitive development.”

PUPA will work with a network of non-governmental organizations and micro-franchisers, and employ women to sell the educational kits to families and informal caregivers. It is expected that as many as 1,400 women microfranchisees will benefit from business training and employment opportunities through PUPA.

Research shows that early childhood development lays a foundation for education, employment and poverty reduction, and that good programs can make up for gaps caused by poverty. Investing in readiness to learn reduces inequities and has lifelong positive consequences.

PUPA products, to be offered at affordable prices and significantly below the retail price of LEGO toys, have been developed in partnership with renowned early childhood education institutions such as Instituto Zero a Seis and the University of Sao Paulo. The company plans to measure the impact of the program on children’s socio-emotional and cognitive development by collecting data that has been shown to predict success in school and to mitigate the effects of poverty on child development.

PUPA is the first private company in Brazil to tap into the low-income market for early childhood educational products. The company is a spinoff of the successful team at Zoon Editora, which over the past seven years has delivered educational materials accompanying LEGO toys to over 1.5 million students aged between 7 and 14 in primary schools across Brazil.

About Opportunities for the Majority

The Opportunities for the Majority (OMJ) of the IDB supports the development and expansion of innovative business models that can improve living conditions and earning opportunities for people living at the base of the socioeconomic pyramid in Latin America and the Caribbean.