• Thinking Spree

Solving a 30-year-old real-world problem

Updated: Jul 14



A groundbreaking solution to the global shortage of affordable childcare: Designing a low-cost, affordable business model that financially self-sustains and scales




Problem Statement

One of India's biggest social enterprises for informal women workers hired Thinking Spree to help them reach financial sustainability and scalability, for one of their most important models – affordable childcare for mothers working in the informal sectors.


The organization was operating at 30% operational viability, with only 1 year’s worth of funds, and scaling at this level would only add financial burdens. 5 years back they had to downsize from 30 to 11 centres due to financial constraints. In order to avoid a similar situation, they were looking at Thinking Spree to provide innovative solutions to the problem.



Thinking Spree Process

Organisation Decoding

We investigated their business model to determine their target audience, unique value systems, operational processes, revenue models and cost of each service. Our investigation revealed that there was absolutely no way to further optimise operating costs.


Consumer and Business Insights

We conducted Customer Insight Research. In the first phase, we held focused group discussions and one-on-one interviews to gauge their new needs. In the second phase, we conducted business research on 40+ childcare models in the world—social and commercial—to understand how they have created financial value-adds for themselves. Numerous insights were determined from these two phases e.g., that parents valued education more than childcare; an aspect of parental ambition led them to pay higher for upgraded education; for a set of parents’ free lunch was the biggest trigger to sending their children to these centres and any addition in the fee would lead them to drop out.


New idea generation

We brainstormed with all stakeholders—grassroots workers, managers, senior management, consultants and Thinking Spree team members—to seek their ideas to achieve the financial viability of the project. We then validated these ideas with relevant stakeholders to understand operational difficulties or other challenges.

An external expert panel of 5 people including an MD of one of India's largest child care facilities, a PhD scholar conducting research in childcare, an expert in social entrepreneurship funding and an IIM student were invited to brainstorm and generate more out-of-the-box ideas to probe on solutions. We generated 100+ unique ideas which were then segregated based on financial viability, operational scalability and value system.


Strategy Building and Testing

Thinking Spree's team put the top ideas to field testing, which enabled the company to see the impact of its solutions. The team continuously guided the execution team by making small iterations in the solutions, enabling it to achieve success at the ground level. Possible solutions for a scalable model were pitched to the management and the operations team.


Business Model Blueprint

After putting ideas to the test, a new model blueprint with 100% financial viability and scalability was created. The model received high levels of acknowledgement from stakeholders. The model instantly raised funds to start the pilot.


Impact

A customer-centric model that caters to the needs of mothers, allowing them to avail numerous facilities from the childcare centre. 100% viable, Potential to scale to 100 centres impacting 4000+ mothers in different locations in India within 5 years.


Here’s a direct quote from SEWA’s management:

“Thanks for sharing this report with us, and more than anything, for helping us find a model which will help operational costs break even. Childcare is one of the most impactful models and many of us would pick this as a top choice project to pour our energies in, now that a promising model has come to light.”


 



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