What is the name of your solution?
Provide a one-line summary of your solution.
Promoting connection, communication, and learning of African children with ongoing behavior and learning challenges.
Film your elevator pitch.
What specific problem are you solving?
African families are struggling to access the right support and education for their children with ongoing behavior and learning challenges. More than 10 million African children below 15 years are missing out on developing foundational and academic skills. Families do not earn enough money to give their children continuous and effective support for their children to develop the right communication and academic skills. As a result, children are not getting access to early and intensive interventions, which have been proven to significantly reduce symptoms. In Nigeria for instance, families spend an average of 6 years trying to access the care support their children need. This is very common across several African countries. Unfortunately, school is often not an option. Before COVID-19, African schools were struggling to create inclusive classrooms. As a result, these children were 10 times less likely to go to school. These children are considered as burdens to society rather than contributors. This is what Craft is working hard to change.
What is your solution?
Craft trains parents and teachers to teach and support children with ongoing behavior and learning delays like autism in the home or school. We deliver training using communication technology like WhatsApp, text messaging, and phone calls. Craft Education focuses on three main components;
1) Using simple instructional videos to teach parents how to use behavior therapy and play-based techniques to help their children grow and learn through meaningful engagements in the home.
2) Training teachers to effectively identify ongoing behavior and learning delays and create and use individualized education plans and evidence-based classroom strategies to teach children and create inclusive classrooms.
3) Matching parents and teachers with trusted and certified behavior therapists and special education professionals so they can have knowledgeable companions work with them to develop support and educational systems for their children through two-way communication
We provide personalized training and support for parents and teachers based on each child’s unique profile and behavioral history. Parents and teachers get weekly coaching through dedicated phone calls sessions based on their time preference. When a parent or teacher completes a behavior assessment through our platform, they are matched with a professional within minutes, creating a care team to provide well-rounded support for the child. Our case managers spend an average of 20 hours each week tracking progress, sharing feedback, and working with parents and teachers to reduce challenging behaviors.
Who does your solution serve, and in what ways will the solution impact their lives?
Access to support has been a challenge for parents of children with ongoing behavior and learning challenges as they have to commute long distances to physical therapy centers and also pay very high fees for their services. [Insert data]. Because these centers are also constrained by the size of their buildings and the number of therapists/assistants on hand, they can only accept a limited number of children and have to turn away some children when at capacity.
Moreover, the pandemic exposed more gaps in the support service available to these children. While some mainstream schools were able to transition to digital learning, therapy centers were not able to do the same at the speed required to continue to deliver learning and support for children and their parents. This brought a lot of stress on families in addition to dealing with the weight of having a child with limited or no communication skills.
Hunu is here to serve the parents who live under $5.5/day as well as teachers, who are trying to support the 10 million children below 15 years with social communication delays.
Parents: Learning a child has behavior and learning challenges is one of the most devastating news for parents of young children. It gets worse when they are turned away from school or do not receive any education even if they are in school because teachers do not have the resources to provide children with the right education.
Teachers: Schools in Africa are putting in their best efforts to ensure quality education is accessible to all children. Unfortunately, children with ongoing behavior and learning challenges are left behind. There are no systems in place to provide ongoing training and support to teachers. Teachers have no way of identifying behavior and learning challenges let alone planning and teaching children with these challenges. Usually, their only option is to turn children away.
Hunu is these parents and teachers who have, for years, been left alone with very little support. Before Hunu, parents who use our solution had been searching for solutions for an average of 4 years. More than 60% were either forced to keep their children at home or considered, especially mothers, quitting their jobs to have more time to take care of their children because the schools could not accept their children.
Our goal is to be a companion to the millions of parents and teachers throughout their behavioral journey with their children.
How are you and your team well-positioned to deliver this solution?
We have developers, special education practitioners, and behavior therapists who are all experts in their field of work and understand what it means to develop impactful solutions for Africans. Key members of our team include a mother who has children with autism, a teacher who has worked for many years with children with behavior challenges and a developer who has previously worked on messaging technology that has impacted millions of African families.
Our product and therapy teams spend hours learning from parents and teachers to build a solution for them. A direct result is our weekly phone call feature. Thanks to our weekly phone calls, we are able to have impactful conversations with parents and teachers as they go through their journey with their children. Unlike existing solutions, we work in partnership with parents and teachers as co-designers and co-evaluators of the interventions they implement themselves.
We also work with clinical experts and researchers to help us leverage available evidence to improve our work.
Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address?
Facilitate meaningful social-emotional learning among underserved young people.
Where our solution team is headquartered or located:Accra, Ghana
Our solution's stage of development:Pilot
How many people does your solution currently serve?
200 parents and teachers in 6 months
Why are you applying to Solve?
Craft would like to benefit from Solve’s strong network of impact-minded leaders across different sectors. We believe that MIT Solve can support us to access the right networks in teletherapy technology provision, neurodevelopmental disorders, behavior therapy, and special education in order for us to develop an evidence-based solution with the potential to scale with a strong Ministry of Education adaptation strategy. In addition, the funding opportunities and monitoring and evaluation support from MIT Solve will help us further our goals of becoming a trusted companion for millions of African families.
In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?
Monitoring & Evaluation (e.g. collecting/using data, measuring impact)
Who is the Team Lead for your solution?
What makes your solution innovative?
Craft's solution is eliminating the current challenges of the therapy pathway in Africa. We make behavior therapy and special education needs affordable and more accessible to many African families.
Current therapy and special education solutions happen within a few physical centers across Africa at a cost that’s beyond the reach of most African families. Moreover, these centers can serve a limited number of children at a time due to the size of their facilities and the number of therapists they have available to support children in traditional face to face therapy.
Hunu is a teletherapy platform that can be accessed by parents and teachers through their mobile devices wherever they find themselves. By optimizing and digitizing the therapy process, we’re able to make therapy services available to more parents because, amongst other benefits, increases the therapist-to-child ratio, removes the need to travel long distances, and reduces the service cost significantly.
We’re tapping into the potential of parents and teachers to have meaningful engagement with children and help them learn and grow. Our teletherapy platform trains parents and teachers of children with ongoing behavior and learning challenges by providing them with videos on activities, matching them with experts, and give them access to relevant information through WhatsApp and other messaging apps.
We have spent a lot of time with therapy providers, parents, and teachers to develop instructional videos and audio clips that can be accessed on any mobile device with or without the internet. Our videos show caregivers how to use behavior therapy and special education techniques to meaningfully engage their children. The videos are short (90-seconds long) and available in multiple African languages. In addition to these videos, caregivers receive weekly calls from their assigned therapist to discuss ways to improve the behavior of their children.
Behavior change is a major priority for us so we use nudge messaging to prompt parents and teachers to watch training videos, create learning opportunities for their children through daily activities, submit their session reports, and prepare for their phone call coaching sessions. These nudge messages help parents and teachers build the right behavior to work well with their children and their assigned therapist.
What are your impact goals for the next year and the next five years, and how will you achieve them?
Craft's primary impact goal is to build the capacity of parents and teachers to help children in Africa develop the right behavior and academic skills they need to thrive. Each quarter, our team develops key results and performance indicators directly linked to our primary impact goal of the rate at which children are learning new skills.
The African Union (AU), through its Innovating Education Africa (IEA) initiative, selected Craft Education as the most innovative education solution in Africa for 2021. Through the IEA initiative, Craft Education will deploy its solutions in collaboration with Ministries of Education across Africa.
Craft’s goal for the next year is to successfully work with the Ministry of Education in Ghana to train parents and teachers on how to use behavior therapy and special education techniques to engage and deliver learning to improve social communication and academic skills of 2,500 Ghanaian children with ongoing behavior and learning challenges and transition to mainstream schools.
In five years, we plan to translate our content to multiple African languages and expand to Kenya, South Africa, and Mozambique through a partnership with the Ministries of Education through the IEA initiative, reaching 30,000 African children.
How are you measuring your progress toward your impact goals?
Progress and behavior tracking is important in behavior therapy and special education. That is why we have adopted the monitoring and evaluation processes of Applied Behavior Analysis to enable our therapy team to support parents and teachers to deliver personalized programs to children. This approach not only allows us to help children develop the right behaviors but their parents and teachers too.
For example, parents and teachers receive a nudge message on WhatsApp or SMS from our AI therapy assistant, Hubeta, to watch an instructional video or submit a report on a therapy session. These messages are delivered at the time parents and teachers set themselves creating a social contract between Craft and caregivers.
Through our nudge messaging feature, we have seen positive behavior change in parents and teachers making time to do an activity with children each day. The average time spent engaging children has increased to an average of 35% (65% increase). Metrics we continue to monitor include:
Number of parents/teachers trained.
Number of engagement sessions delivered by parents/teachers.
Rate at which children are mastering new skills (mastery criteria).
As a result of the improved behavior of parents and teachers to make time in their day for children, our platform has realized that children are learning new skills much faster compared to children not getting support through our solution. Hubeta helps us collect and analyze behavior and performance data and makes this information available to parents, teachers, and our therapy team. Hubeta also keeps track of parent challenges and satisfaction levels to help us develop training experiences that not only show parents and teachers what to do but also motivate and empower them.
What is your theory of change?
Craft envisions a world where African children with ongoing behavior and learning challenges are able to acquire the communication and social skills they need to thrive as early as possible in their development, they are able to go to school to acquire numeracy and literacy skills and are included in mainstream education settings that are equipped to meet their unique learning needs.
By combining mobile technology, engaging therapists and training content, building partnerships with private schools and government agencies, we seek to deliver evidence-based therapy programs and guides through qualified therapists via messaging apps in homes and schools at scale.
This empowers parents/teachers to identify developmental concerns associated with autism and other related disorders early and access affordable qualified therapists and support services.
In the long term, we hope that the readily available, accessible and reliable training, coupled with partnerships with government agencies, facilitates the inclusion and learning of children with social communication skills in schools.
Describe the core technology that powers your solution.
Our teletherapy platform uses videos, text and pre-recorded messages to train parents and teachers on how to effectively engage and teach children with ongoing behavior and learning challenges through communication channels like WhatsApp, SMS and voice calls — the use of this technology makes access behavior therapy and special education needs services accessible 67% faster compared to existing solutions in Africa today.
We are improving our behavior tracking that uses nudge messages to prompt parents and teachers to take courses, watch videos, book training sessions and find time to do meaningful activities with children. As this work continues to grow, our chatbot experiences and recommendations engine will improve significantly and provide personalized nudges to help parents/teachers develop positive behaviors, engage children more and help them (children) build the right social communication and academic skills.
Which of the following categories best describes your solution?
A new business model or process that relies on technology to be successful
Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:
Which of the UN Sustainable Development Goals does your solution address?
What type of organization is your solution team?
For-profit, including B-Corp or similar models
How many people work on your solution team?
5 full-time, 5 part-time, 2 contractors
How long have you been working on your solution?
What is your approach to incorporating diversity, equity, and inclusivity into your work?
At Craft, we continuously work to ensure that no one is left behind by amplifying the voices of everyone through intentional and inclusive engagements with all stakeholders, especially the parents and teachers we serve and their children.
Diversity: We believe that diversity in the composition of team makes stronger. The co-founder and CTO and our head of Product are both women. Our team's composition is currently 41% women. We believe diversity in representation helps us took at the solution we're presenting from multiple thought perspectives with go a long way to deliver impact.
Equity: Our technology strategy focuses on making our solutions available both online and offline making it possible for everyone in Africa to access our support services. Our pricing plan considers the poverty line in Africa and makes it affordable for everyone regardless of their socioeconomic background.
Inclusion: Through our caregiver board program, we work with a select group of parents and teachers each quarter to ensure that our solution's beneficiaries are appropriately represented.
Craft is an equal employment opportunity employer that is continuously working to ensure gender parity. To date, Craft works with people from 3 different African countries, of which 41% are women.
What is your business model?
Craft’s teletherapy platform that trains parents of children with ongoing behavior and learning challenges to use effective behavior therapy techniques, through WhatsApp, SMS and dedicated phone calls, to help children develop the right social communication skill and manage challenging behaviors. Families can get a behavior assessment and corresponding report for free.
With a monthly subscription fee using mobile money to access our instructional videos, nudges, pre-recorded messages and get matched with a certified behavior therapist for ongoing support and weekly training phone calls. Additional fees give caregivers access to special education needs programs, individual education plans and teacher training support from a special education specialist for children already in school.
Do you primarily provide products or services directly to individuals, to other organizations, or to the government?Individual consumers or stakeholders (B2C)
What is your plan for becoming financially sustainable?
We expect to keep growing our solution through grants, subscriptions for families and licensing fees paid by healthcare providers and governments. We are currently prioritizing grants and subscriptions revenue over the next 12 months. Through our partnership with the African Union (AU), we plan to work with the AU to roll out national inclusive education initiatives that are funded through the Ministry of Education and their donor partners.