Harnessing Technology for Good with The Reach Trust

Written by:
Published on:
July 3, 2024

Founding Story

The Reach Trust’s story begins with its founding in 2012 by Marlon Parker and Andrew Rudge. Initially known as The Mxit Reach Trust, the organisation’s original mission was to help people by providing a range of education and health services via the Mxit platform. Through collaboration with various experts, influential stakeholders such as the United Nations, and non-governmental organisations, The Reach Trust reached over 10 million people across more than 50 countries.

Adapting to Change

With the closure of Mxit, a popular South African social networking platform, the Trust rebranded and restructured in 2015. This pivot was necessary to adapt to the changing technological landscape and continue its social impact mission. The Reach Trust is a technology-for-good organisation that aims to inspire and improve lives by developing cost-effective education technology solutions. They now focus on creating innovative Android, web, and WhatsApp solutions, particularly in youth capacity building and early childhood development (ECD).

Addressing Early Childhood Development

Did you know 90% of brain development occurs before a child is five? Yet, due to deeply embedded societal inequalities, many young children in South Africa lack access to the high-quality early education they need to succeed. This gap ultimately results in poor educational outcomes and high youth unemployment rates. The Reach Trust aims to address this barrier with its educational play-based solution, Finding Thabo. This accessible and interactive game provides essential cognitive stimulation during a child’s formative years.

The Power of Play-Based Learning

Finding Thabo is based on evidence-based scientific research and the principles of play-based learning. Research consistently shows that children learn most effectively through play, a method often undervalued by adults. Global researchers and educators have discovered that play enhances learning and helps develop critical skills such as inquiry, expression, experimentation, teamwork, and bonding.

Inspired by Where's Wally?, Finding Thabo uses printed illustrations combined with Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp chatbots to assist parents through brain-stimulating activities with their children. This approach blends visual searches with interactive digital support, creating engaging and practical developmental exercises for young minds.

The game has built-in accessibility features that cater to different learning styles and abilities. This inclusivity ensures that the foundation for lifelong learning is solid and gives children the best possible start in life. It also plays a crucial part in reducing educational challenges and unemployment, which offers hope for a future where children can thrive.

Support The Reach Trust's Mission

Amplifying The Reach Trust's work is pivotal in addressing the educational and developmental challenges many children in South Africa face. The Reach Trust significantly impacts early childhood development and youth capacity building by leveraging the immense power of technology and imaginative solutions like Finding Thabo. Your support can help expand their reach and ensure more children have the best opportunity to lead a successful and fulfilling future. To learn more about their work and impact, visit The Reach Trust’s website.

The Reach Trust is part of the 2024 Injini Mastercard Foundation EdTech Fellowship Program.