The Village is a startup that was founded in 2019 by three women – Aleksandra Kozera (a Harvard graduate who is passionate about socially responsible business), Agnieszka Luczak and Weronika Matejko-Skwarek. Its mission is to connect parents and their children aged 1-6 with local educational centers – called Villages – where the youngest can receive professional care, consistent with the values of nonviolent communication, attachment parenting and democratic education. “Few people know how important this stage of growing up is for children’s future. That is why we want every child to be able to benefit from professional care at this age,” says Aleksandra Kozera.
The Villages are run by mothers on parental leave, where they can work with their children and an additional two or three children from the local area. This way another objective of The Village is fulfilled. “Thanks to these facilities, mothers have an easier return to the job market after giving birth and can grow as entrepreneurs,” says Aleksandra Kozera. In her opinion, thanks to the Villages, the local community gains an intimate care facility, which responds to their needs and is an alternative to babysitters or overcrowded nurseries. What is more, mothers also gain a platform to help each other and participate in the education process of their children.
In the beginning, the founders ran the Villages by themselves, but it soon turned out that there is much more demand for these types of facilities. “We started to be contacted by people, who would like to open such places in cooperation with our team,” says Aleksandra Kozera. “Therefore, we decided that The Village will start to operate on the basis of an IT platform that supports mothers and babysitters in a comprehensive way. It helps to establish Villages and to maintain them by sharing know-how concerning, among others, the educational program. It also allows parents to find Villages in their neighbourhood,” she adds. Currently, The Village plans to open more than 100 Villages. This is a very good result, considering the short time the company has been operating, with most of it during the pandemic period.
Digital tools have contributed greatly to the startup’s growth. They allowed the founders of The Village to scale their business and enter more local markets. They primarily used Google My Business and targeted ads such as Google Ads and Facebook Ads. “Thanks to them, we could reach precisely defined locations with our vision and mission. Precision is very important in this case because the range of operation of each Village is not large – after all, its important asset is the local touch,” says Agnieszka Łuczak, co-founder responsible for marketing and communication of The Village. She points out the advantages of targeted advertising. “Its low cost was important for us, compared to mass advertising, such as newspaper advertisements, which we could not afford,” she adds. Subsequently, The Village started using CRM tools to be able to efficiently handle contact with the rapidly growing number of Villages.
Digital tools proved even more useful during the pandemic. During this time, The Village developed online course offerings, among other things. “Thanks to this, our organization was able to continue functioning and growing, and the children were provided with education,” says Agnieszka Łuczak. She points out that in this difficult period, the common values and goals shared by all people involved in creating the Villages were crucial. She also points out that digital tools for online conversations with the people running facilities have been a key support. “They helped us a lot to survive not only the pandemic, but also the difficult period of a few weeks when, due to the lockdown, the Villages were closed. It was a time that required a lot of conversations online and mutual support,” she adds.
The founders of the start-up are not resting on their laurels and want to develop it further. They are planning to make it possible, among other things, to create an online community of child care and education facility owners on their IT platform. The startup is also very popular among investors. In July 2021, The Village raised PLN 2.7 million for further development. With these funds, the owners intend to develop technology that will help them support more people and reach out to new target groups. They also do not rule out foreign expansion. It is worth mentioning that according to current trends in the world, the early stage education sector, in which The Village operates, has a future – in the United States this sector is worth 54.3 billion US dollars.