Tiny Totos: Serving East African Daycares through a Pandemic

NGOsource is proud to support NGOs like Tiny Totos Kenya Limited, which is transforming the way organizations serve their communities during a pandemic. Tiny Totos first went through the equivalency determination (ED) process in 2020, when the David Weekley Family Foundation requested its ED. Now that Tiny Totos has been certified, its ED will remain on file in the NGOsource repository, where additional grantmakers can search and find it, creating new opportunities for funding. 

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Based in Nairobi, Kenya, Tiny Totos Kenya Limited was founded in 2016. The organization enhances early childhood development by working with existing slum-based daycares in Eastern Africa. The organization’s goal is to improve the standards of care for children while enabling daycares to earn more for their work. Tiny Totos’ intervention model is helping transform substandard daycares to quality centers of care by incorporating entrepreneur coaching, education around early childhood development, mentorship, and access to financial assistance. Beyond striving for economic profitability and network sustainability, Tiny Totos has already made remarkable strides in terms of children’s development. Every child in a Tiny Totos daycare receives health screenings and access to nutritious meals that result in significant improvements to their overall health and weight.

The Impact of COVID-19

Tiny Totos founder and CEO, Emma Caddy, shared with NGOsource about how COVID-19 has impacted the organization’s work, as well as how the ED process with NGOsource benefitted the organization.

Globally, COVID-19 has a disproportionate impact on the poor. In Kenya, COVID has had a relatively low impact in terms of cases and deaths. However, the economic effects of COVID have been significant, especially on the 36% of the population already living below the poverty line. The most vulnerable group of all, preschool-aged lower-income children, were already suffering even before the pandemic. Disadvantages for this group include limited access to running water and sanitation (which are the worst health indicators in the country), and rates of stunting over double the national average. The biggest challenge Tiny Totos faced through the pandemic was that COVID closed almost half of the organization’s network of 100 childcare centers. Additionally, the added pressure of unemployed parents and social distancing forced Tiny Totos to think creatively about how it could continue to support its network in safe and meaningful ways.

During this time, the organization pivoted its focus to digital communication as a way to share information and build community. Through digital communication, Tiny Totos provided information about low-cost nutritional meals as well as mental support services to mothers, children, and families. The organization’s daycare and client networks continued to provide vital health care and nutrition support, including vaccination drives and the distribution and sale of affordable, nutritious foods. Tiny Totos also provided emergency loans and financing to families so they could access necessary items for clean cooking, as well as water filters and mobile phones. Tiny Totos’ innovative, accessible digital learning program was recognized by the mEducation Alliance, EdTech, the UN-ITC Equals Award and UNESCO. The organization’s livelihood and clean energy financing program was recognized by Energy and Environment Partnership Trust for Africa (EEP).

ED in Action

Tiny Totos work is invaluable, and the ways in which the organization adapted to meet the challenges of COVID-19 display the agility and fortitude of the organization and its team. Tiny Totos’ ED certification with NGOsource allows funders like the David Weekley Family Foundation to support an organization’s holistic growth, through general support grants, if desired. The organization plans to use the funds to improve upon its existing programs for lower-income women and the vulnerable preschool children in their care. The funds will also be used to ensure that the organization has the materials, systems, and team needed to support the increasing number of childcare providers in its network.

NGOsource is inspired by, and grateful to have worked with and certified, Tiny Totos through the ED process so that it can receive the funds necessary to continue its invaluable work. If you are a foundation or donor-advised fund interested in supporting Tiny Totos or other international NGOs like it, we’d love to hear from you.