SA education startup Play Sense raises $458k to pivot online

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South African company Play Sense, which has developed a unique play-centric curriculum for young children, has raised ZAR8.25 million (US$458,000) in funding to take its in-home, pre-school learning model online.

Co-founded by Meg Faure, a qualified occupational therapist, childhood development expert and author, Play Sense aims to equip parents with the knowledge they need for raising their children. 

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the startup has gone digital, making its curriculum and pre-school format available online to users around the world. Faure says Play Sense overhauled its business model to include a digital offering where children can access their imagination-based play sessions virtually. 

This was done thanks to funding secured from Enygma Ventures, the US-based VC firm founded by award winning entrepreneurs Sarah and Jacob Dusek. The company last year launched a fund with a focus on investing in women entrepreneurs in the SADC region, and Play Sense is its first investment.

Sarah Dusek said she was excited about how Play Sense had successfully pivoted its business, adapting its model to serve parents and children during this unprecedented time of schooling from home. 

“We are exceptionally proud of the entrepreneurs we are working with, that even in the midst of this COVID-19 crisis, we are seeing amazing resilience, creativity, and ability to pivot their businesses and respond under pressure,” she said.

Play Sense completed its pivot in just two weeks, with Faure saying it now offered a home-based education solution, including virtual contact time between teachers and learners, and activity ideas and learning support for parents. 

“This will meet the critical needs of parents and their little ones during this period of isolation,” she said. 

“We believe that the way families choose to educate their children will be impacted long term and the choice of at-home or small group setting will become the norm of the future. This funding means that we can roll our programme out internationally.”

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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