The brain develops most rapidly in the first five years of a child’s life. Yet, worldwide, 250 million children are not reaching their potential during these years. In developing countries, hundreds of millions of children do not have access to pre-school; they live in areas affected by armed conflict and climate-related disasters; and their growth is stunted, which harms their brain development.
For over 30 years, the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) has worked with governments and communities to ensure that hundreds of thousands of girls and boys have a good start in life, by influencing the environments in which they are growing. A good start means healthy pregnancy, safe delivery, nurturing bonds and proper nutrition; it means children growing up happy, healthy, and confident and caring, with opportunities to play and learn.
Increasingly, this work has also involved the business community’s investment in early childhood development (ECD). Companies in the private sector are responding to the idea that the smartest investment their business can make – to see greater returns in education, health, productivity and economic growth – is early in a child’s life. Several AKDN project companies, for example, have early childhood initiatives and family-friendly workplace policies that provide their employees the means to improve and safeguard the development of their young children, thereby providing them the foundation for success.