On Saturday 23rd November 2019, SmartStart had its annual Leage of Stars Award Ceremony in Johannesburg.  More than 1200 franchisees attended the event where dignitaries like the First Lady of South Africa, Dr Tshepo Motsepe, Dr David Harrison (CEO of DGMT) and Grace Mathlape, CEO of SmartStart, addressed them on the importance of ECD.  They were praised for the huge role they play in giving every child the power to succeed.

The event started by all present paying tribute to our “fallen stars”, SmartStarters who passed away during the last year.  This was followed by a short workshop on some small-group activities that franchisees could do with the children in their programme.

And then the fun began …

Franchisees were treated to a delicious buffet and live music while the SmartStart HUB prepared to start handing out the prizes.

Franchisees belong to clubs which form an integral part of the SmartStart model.  It is based on the Stokvel or peer-support principle and has proven to help SmartStarters grow their ECD-business thereby allowing more children to have access to quality early learning.  To encourage club engagement and active participation, as well as compliance in terms of programme quality and child attendance, the League of Stars competition was introduced. Clubs compete in Leagues against other Regional Franchisors.  They are assessed on a variety of aspects, including creativity, taking action, club meeting attendance, having passed their own quality assurance assessment as facilitator and on how well they are functioning as a club.  There are also category winners for the categories creativity, taking action, parent engagement and leaving nobody behind.  Lastly their is a prize for the Club of the Year and for the Club Coach of the Year.

Drum roll …

Diaconia is so proud to announce the following results as per Club Coach:

Eureka Smit from Wellington, who is coaching 41 franchisees in Wellington, Paarl, Darling, Koringberg and Citrusdal:

League                 Club                                       Place                     Prize

Gold 3                   Rainbow Educare                   Citrusdal              1st

Gold 8                   Smarties                                   Wellington          1st

Gold 9                   New Generation                      Paarl                     1st

Silver 2                  Smart Givers                           Darling                 1st

Teslyn Mc Donald from Rawsonville, who is coaching 23 franchisees: in Rawsonville and Worcester:

League                 Club                                       Place                     Prize

Platinum 1           De Noviens                          Rawsonville                 1st

Gold 8                   Worcester Starts                Worcester                      3rd


Hazel Herwel from De Doorns, who is coaching 30 franchisees in De Doorns, Laingsburg and Touws River:

League                 Club                                       Place                     Prize

Silver 10               Beautiful Beginners         De Doorns           1st AND Category Winner for “Taking Action”

Silver 13               Touwsrivier SmartStart  Touws River        1st

Premier 3             Gogetters                           De Doorns           2nd

Silver 16               Bright Shining Stars         De Doorns           3rd


Mildred Josephs from Kakamas, who coaches 20 franchisees in Kakams and Vredesvallei:

League                 Club                                       Place                     Prize

Gold 5                   Busy Bees                                Kakamas                     3rd


Anne-Marie Saffi from Mossel Bay, who coaches 47 franchisees in Mossel Bay, Heidelberg and Riversdal:

League                 Club                                       Place                     Prize

Premier 4             Bright Stars                                Mossel Bay              1st

Premier 4             Silverlinings                               Mossel Bay             3rd

Silver 4                  Future Changers                       Mossel Bay              1st

Silver 5                  Progress                                     Riversdal                  1st

Silver 17               Kids with(in) needs                    Riversdal                 1st

Silver 9                  Big Brains                                  Heidelberg               2nd

We are also immensely proud to announce that Anne-Marie Saffi, from Mossel Bay, who also coaches franchisees in Riversdal and Heidelberg, has won the highly prestigious award of “Coach of the Year”!  This award goes to the club coach who has the most clubs in the top ten clubs nationally,  She competed against 84 coaches nationally.  This is truly a prestigious award and Diaconia is immensely proud of her.  She has worked consistently hard over the last few years and continued to develop and learn.  We also wish to congratulate and thank her support teams in Mossel Bay and Riversdal for the role they have played in helping her grow and develop into South Africa’s top club coach!  They are a model of best practice demonstrating the invaluable role of local congregations and communities in “giving every child the power to succeed”!