Play Africa is the first interactive children’s museum in Southern Africa. Named “one of the world’s most impactful and scalable education innovators” by HundrED.org, Play Africa bridges divides with inclusive, equitable learning spaces, hands-on exhibits, programmes, parent engagement and teacher training. At Play Africa, everyone can play, discover, innovate and connect. Focusing on creative, holistic and playful learning in early childhood development (ECD) and primary education, Play Africa empowers children with skills for a changing world.
Play Africa is based in the Old Fort at the iconic Constitution Hill, a former prison complex in Johannesburg, South Africa. Play Africa partners with Constitution Hill to re-imagine our shared future by nurturing a culture of human rights and celebrating the values and spirit of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa.
Play Africa empowers children to think critically to better protect the democracy we enjoy today, and encourages all citizens and all visitors to ask questions, speak out against injustice, and identify innovative solutions for South Africa’s new era. From our base at Constitution Hill, we honour children and champion their rights as enshrined in our Constitution, the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Play Africa Group NPC is a non-profit company (#2014/101533/08) and public benefit organisation (#930048005) with Section 18A tax-exempt status.
Under South Africa’s most recent Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) guidelines, Play Africa can offer corporates points on B-BBEE scorecards, via Socio-Economic Development (SED), ownership, Enterprise Development (ED) and Skills Development (SD).
Our mission is to offer every child an educational experience worthy of his or her potential, to nourish a sense of belonging, and to engage and inspire all visitors to dream about the possibilities inside themselves, their families and their communities.
A more just and equitable society that honours children and celebrates the human dignity, creativity and potential inside every child.
In 2013, we launched our sustainable social enterprise with a big vision to create large-scale impact in one of the most unequal societies in the world.
As we grew, we developed and tested our initial programmes and exhibits through rapid prototyping (2013-2017). The City of Johannesburg became our museum, as we launched a de-centralised, agile “museum without walls” – bringing Play Africa to community centres, schools, parks and street corners.
In 2017, we moved to Constitution Hill, a human rights precinct within a former prison complex in Braamfontein, Johannesburg. As a publicly-accessible children’s museum and cultural institution, we diversified our innovations, as well as our team’s skills and capacities (2018-2019).
During the COVID-19 crisis, we leveraged technology and design thinking to expand our reach substantially across southern Africa. Since March 2020, we have prototyped nine new virtual programmes to offer locally-relevant cultural and play-based programming to children, play training and psychosocial support to parents, and new training to educators. Technology has enabled us to create entirely new and innovative ways for Africa’s children and parents to connect with one another.
Today, we are on the exciting path to grow! We bring the experience, know-how and partnerships to successfully expand our reach through quantitative scaling.
Play Africa Group is governed by a board of directors, who provide the mix of skills and experience appropriate to the needs of our strategy. The board conducts board evaluations and skills audits in order to evaluate recruitment priorities. New board members are briefed on their legal obligations under South Africa’s Companies Act, the content of Play Africa’s Memorandum of Incorporation (its governing document), decision-making processes and recent financial performance. The board of directors reviews the financial health of the organisation and ensures that all documents and records are prepared in accordance with international best practice. Day-to-day management of Play Africa Group is delegated to the CEO, Gretchen Wilson-Prangley, who reports to the board of directors.
Play Africa Group is a voluntary signatory to the UN Global Compact, an initiative to implement universal sustainability principles and to take steps to support UN goals.
Play Africa receives independent, external audits annually, conducted by PwC South Africa.
Accountability and transparency are key values at Play Africa. For more information about our stewardship values, our financial policies or to review our audited financial statements, please contact us today!
Play Africa strives to be a fully-inclusive cultural institution. Everyone deserves safe, nurturing spaces for open-ended play and exploration. We are an anti-racist organisation, and are committed to promoting the dignity and equality of all people.
Unfair discrimination on the grounds of race, as well as creed, colour, national origin, political or religious affiliation, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, family relationship and disability are not tolerated by and within Play Africa. Play Africa has zero-tolerance for unfair discriminatory practices in its environment by the people it is associated with.
Scaling up social innovations always requires a keen understanding of how to generate both effective supply and commensurate demand. To do this, Play Africa has tested and prototyped our solutions to find a model that can be replicated while retaining high-quality social impact. Through our proof-of-concept phase, we’ve:
- Facilitated transformative, innovative playful learning experiences of 3 hours or more for more than 25,000 children, parents and educators.
- Successfully partnered with more than 210 institutions, NGOs, schools, creches, and other organisations.
- Delivered value through customised programmes on behalf of more than 20 corporate and foundation partners, as well as 13 global universities.
- Developed a market-facing approach by experimenting with various revenue-generating activities, including customised programmes.
- Found that our offering is truly unique within our context.
- Discovered the untapped resource of high-potential unemployed youth who are hungry for meaningful work opportunities.
- Attracted partnerships with top cultural and educational institutions around the world who support our vision and mission.
- Realised that our solution is more than just the sum of its parts; our demand is linked to our dignity-centred approach, which manifests in every aspect of our interaction with visitors.
Play Africa is playing in a large and fast-growing market that’s bound to attract new entrants. We plan to take increasing share in this market by leveraging our proven and unique assets.