Early Years are Vital

Nathalia Mesa is the Chairperson of aeioTU, a Colombian social enterprise promoting Early Childhood Development (ECD). With aeioTU she has mobilized national, state and city governments and dozens of foundations and private companies leading to a new national policy on ECD, increased national budgets, and improved standards for new services for the 2.5 million vulnerable children in Colombia.

Half of Colombian children under five years of age (5% of the population) lack access to high quality ECD services due to limited funding, strategy and human capital. AeioTU offers direct, high quality ECD services to children and families, and accompanies educators and ECD centers interested in improving their quality and impact.

AeioTU‘s operation has been systematized into a formal educational model for ECD including the management and pedagogical tools. AeioTU has over a decade of experience in building and operating 29 ECD centers in 13 cities across Colombia. They serve 14,500 children and 23,639 families with a team of 1,200 teachers.

Nathalia Mesa receives one of ten 2018 Klaus J. Jacobs Awards for social innovation and engagement. With the award money of CHF 100,000 Nathalia Mesa wants to create a sustainable fund for directly operated centers. Interested companies need to make CAPEX investments (for furniture, toys, books etc.) to open a center. AeioTU will lend the companies funds for these investments. The idea is for them to return the money over the years at a very low interest rate. With this business model aeioTU will be able to grow directly operated centers sustainably.

Chairperson of aeioTU, Nathalia Mesa.

“Our commitment is to develop the full potential of every child.“

In 2016, aeioTU shifted its growth focus from opening new centers to sharing its solutions with others working to promote systemic change of ECD systems around the world.

In 2018, the Jacobs Foundation bestows 10 awards to social innovators and change makers in the field of child and youth development. Each award will come with an amount of CHF 100’000. The recipients provide solutions for positive child and youth development at low cost, which are sustainable and can be easily implemented on the spot. What the ten awardees have in common is their wish for social change and their restless personal social engagement. They are beyond talking – they act.