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A Head Start For Young Children From The Base Of The Pyramid PUPA Fills Brazil’s Early Childhood Education Gap In Brazil, ten million low-income children aged 0 to 6 years old are neither in daycare nor in preschool. They stay home with parents or spend days with informal caregivers—many of whom have little education and few materials geared to cognitive development of young children. PUPA Empreendimentos Educacionais e Representaçao LTDA plans to fill that important gap in early education at the base of the pyramid. With a $3 million secured loan from Opportunities for the Majority Initiative (OMJ), new social business PUPA will provide magazines, LEGO toys and audio-visual aids for young children, training and certification to adults for their use, and employment opportunities for women micro-franchisees.

Opportunities for Children and Adults Stimulation through toys, blocks, music, and books is often missing for low-income children in Brazil who are not in formal care or preschool. 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 with lifelong positive consequences. PUPA is the first private company in Brazil targeting lowincome children, parents and caregivers with educational products. PUPA will design, manufacture and sell fun and easy to use early childhood kits comprised of magazines, toys and CDs or DVDs. Sold in series of “packets” that make them more affordable, materials cover two months of learning, include LEGO toys for less than retail price, and simple guides for facilitators. Training is integral to PUPA’s operations using a program designed by Brazil’s leading early childhood education institute

for caregivers with little or no formal education. Basic health, nutrition and education information is included to insure materials are used effectively while improving preschool activities and adding value to caregivers’ services. Women from low-income communities will be trained as PUPA micro-franchisees and be the primary sales force. Almost half will obtain their first job through the program. Micro-franchisees assess caregivers and parents and tailor PUPA packets to kids’ needs and environment. Every month, they will meet customers to make sure materials are being used correctly, offer advice, collect payment and encourage continued participation. Micro-franchisees also take simple surveys to measure how much cognitive skills of children in the PUPA program are improving.

Building on Success PUPA is the brainchild of ZOOM Editora Educational LTDA, a family-owned company that has sold more than 1.5 million kits comprised of textbooks, LEGO Educational products—for which it is the exclusive representative in Brazil—and other materials to Brazilian schoolchildren aged seven to 14. An independently owned and managed company, PUPA draws on ZOOM’s expertise and success in developing and selling innovative ways of learning. PUPA builds on ZOOM’s relationship with around 200 Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) providing free early childcare in low-income communities. Those NGOs play a key role in PUPA’s initial outreach and promotion, helping to identify micro-franchisees and becoming distribution points for PUPA packets. The program will be piloted in five low-income communities in São Paulo where ZOOM has strong ties with NGO-operated daycares, and launch formally across São Paulo state a year later. Once established, PUPA will expand in other states. In seven years, it expects to train over 56,000 caregivers, provide income for over 1,400 women micro-franchisees and improve development of 224,000 children. PUPA will become a valued partner in low-income communities, and has potential to expand to other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

For more information about the program, contact: OM-IDB@iadb.org

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