Ana-Julia Van Bilsen Irias

Investment Executive

Charities Aid Foundation


05 December 2014

help2read support disadvantaged children across Southern Africa to learn how to read. As well as local offices, a significant part of the fundraising and leadership is provided by their UK entity.


All organisations that CAF Venturesome work with are UK registered – allowing a strong line of communication with them as well as ensuring we are able to carry out our high level of due diligence prior to investment. However, around 25% have all, or part, of their operations abroad – such as help2read.

“CAF Venturesome’s loans have been transformative for help2read both in South Africa and in the UK. Specifically the loans have enabled us to expand our reach with disadvantaged children in South Africa who were struggling with literacy so that we have impacted the lives of over 9,000 children since our inception. Our involvement with Venturesome enabled us to boost our fundraising capacity, access expert fundraising advice in the UK and South Africa and as such has contributed to the long term sustainability of help2read.”

Alex Moss - Founder and Chair of the Board, help2read

Literacy has a direct impact on an individual’s economic and personal opportunities. A recent study revealed that almost 80% of South African learners have not developed basic reading skills by the time they are 11 years old. help2read’s mission is to support children aged 5 to 12 in learning how to read and to develop a love of reading. Their model is straightforward and effective: they recruit, train and support literate adult volunteers from local communities to help disadvantaged primary school children who struggle to read. These volunteers work on a one-on-one basis with each child for half an hour, twice a week, providing them with support over at least one year.

CAF Venturesome first supported help2read in 2010 with a £35,000 loan from the Development Fund which enabled them to hire a fundraiser in Cape Town. With their repayments on track for this first loan, CAF Venturesome provided a second facility of £85,000 in January 2014 to help with UK-based fundraising. help2read is an organisation that has impressive scalability, since 2010 they have expanded their activities within South Africa and to pilots and partnerships across southern Africa, including Malawi and Namibia. We see this progress as hugely encouraging for their future growth and were keen to continue supporting them to further increase their impact.

help2read has reached over 8,000 children since it began operating in Cape Town in 2006, and in the current academic year will benefit over 900 disadvantaged children in southern Africa. The 60 schools on the programme report improvements in attainment, whilst the children also benefit from increased confidence and self-esteem. There are currently 350 dedicated local community volunteers who are vital in delivering this impact, each of whom also benefit from help2read as it can build confidence for their return to work. help2read have implemented an assessment of the impact of their work: across a sample of 75 children it found that the reading skills of children working with a help2read volunteer had accelerated by 1.3 years in a six-month period, double the national average for the same age group.

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