Shared value project: Repurpose for Purpose

Shared value project: Repurpose for Purpose

21 Apr 2022


  • We produce and distribute high-quality early learning resources focused on building the critically important cognitive skills of young children
  • These are provided for FREE to ECD Centres, playgroups, toy libraries and home visiting programmes across South Africa through ECD Resource and Training Organisations serving resource-poor communities.
  • Resources are produced using Barrows Excess Business Inventory (i.e waste) and distributed to depots around the country pro bono by City Logistics – making the resource pipeline sustainable
  • There are over 20 partners working together to make this possible



Repurpose for Purpose focuses on addressing a skills gap that has existed in the Early Childhood Development (ECD) space for years. We are talking about cognitive development skills – the skills that have been consistently identified as weak in the national Early Learning Outcomes Measurement survey in South Africa.

Without these essential skills, young children are entering formal schooling at a distinct disadvantage. This can be clearly seen in South Africa’s dismal performance in global studies of scholars’ literacy and numeracy performance at certain ages, including the distressing result that 78% of our children cannot read for meaning by the end of Grade 4. In addition, it is well known that most ECD practitioners, especially those serving our most vulnerable young children, do not have access to resources that promote cognitive development or the knowledge and skills to provide such activities in their early learning programmes.

Repurpose for Purpose produces free, quality early learning resources directed at cognitive development. With the aid of our various partners and by using Excess Business Inventory (EBI), the programme benefits the most vulnerable and resource-poor early learning programmes across South Africa.



Barrows is a retail experience agency that has been developing transformative experiences in retail across the world for the last 30 years. One of the most popular products manufactured by Barrows is the temporary display unit made up of corrugated board. When these temporary display units are printed for brands across the world, there is often blank white space remaining – areas of the cardboard or paper not covered in advertising artwork. This is referred to as Excess Business Inventory (EBI) – it is not necessarily waste but would be discarded if not used creatively. Rather than Barrows recycling this EBI, the white space is used to print high quality Repurpose for Purpose early learning materials.

The materials that get printed on this white space have been developed by the Repurpose for Purpose content committee made up of Early Childhood Development (ECD) specialists with decades of experience in resource-poor early learning settings. This team includes an educational psychologist, speech therapists, experts on early literacy, and children with special needs, early years specialists and curriculum developers. In order to ensure quality and versatility, the Repurpose for Purpose resources and training materials have been:

  • Aligned to the National Curriculum Framework (birth to age 4/5) [NCF]
  • Aligned to the Early Learning Developmental Areas (ELDAs)
  • Developed to scaffold learning according to age and developmental stage
  • Adapted to fit the South African context
  • Designed to be a resource for early learning (NOT a programme)
  • Developed to apply in multiple early learning contexts (ECD Centres, playgroups, toy libraries, home visiting programmes)
  • Designed for multi-use (each component covering a number of core cognitive and perceptual competencies)

These materials are then distributed pro bono by City Logistics and stored at local Depots across South Africa (also pro bono) by Barrows Tradereach.



We have partnered with the National Early Childhood Development Alliance (NECDA), an Early Childhood Development (ECD) focused network, comprising non-profit organisations and sector experts that aims to provide capacity building, high-quality training, and resourcing to the ECD Sector in vulnerable communities across South Africa.

Whilst the resources are of great benefit to young children, the majority of adults facilitating this work have limited knowledge, understanding, and capacity to utilise these resources without training. It is for this reason that we work with various distribution partners – selected NECDA members that are Resource and Training Organisations (RTO’s) – to ensure introductory and ongoing training is provided to adults using the resources in different environments (i.e ECD Centres, playgroups, toy libraries and home visiting programmes). This training is provided by our distribution partners and is supported through the Repurpose for Purpose playbooks and e-learning materials whose development was recently funded by Innovation Edge (another essential R4P partner).

FlexPC and Polyflex added yet another exciting development to the programme in 2021, agreeing to provide pro bono packaging to ensure these resources last in ECD programmes across the country. These has been beautifully designed specifically for the project into nifty carry bags for ECD practitioners, toy librarians or home visiting programme facilitators to carry with them.



The next 6 months are dedicated to landing these new resources and training materials on the ground with carefully selected pilot partners.

Since these are playful learning resources (and not a programme), we are interested to find out how these resources will be used in different settings from playgroups to ECD centres to home visiting programmes or toy libraries. We are also interested in seeing the unique methods of training that our distribution partners are going to use to filter this training through their organisation – learning and growing with them in a highly collaborative manner.

We are also looking to scale this model by bringing on new printing partners and translating the training resources into additional languages

If you would like to find out more about this initiative and how you can be involved, contact (Repurpose for Purpose Project Manager and Communications Lead) OR contact our National Programmes Lead