Ambessa Play develops DIY STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) toy kits and workshops for children aged five to 15. The company is a social enterprise operating on a one-for-one model. For every kit purchased in the UK, a displaced child out of school receives one for free.
According to UNICEF, there are currently four million displaced children out of school, not receiving any learning opportunities. After running several STEM workshops abroad, children who were displaced asked the venture to build specific toys that they needed every day, such as a flashlight.
Simultaneously, 71% of parents are concerned with children’s screen-time and are looking for modular, sustainable toys, as 8.5 million toys are currently thrown away each year in the UK. Ambessa Play seeks to tackle both problems of lack of educational opportunities, toy wastage and screen concerns, by building screen-free toy kits where children can learn through play.
The team is led by founder Sara Berkai, who has a background in technology and education. Sara recently completed an MSc in Child Development at the University of Oxford, and has previously worked at charities, universities, and technology companies.
The venture has won Innovate UK’s Young Innovator award, Oxford Social Impact award, and participated in the Design Museum’s Entrepreneurs Hub and Courier’s Fresh Fund.
Ambessa Play’s mission is to raise STEM aspirations for children globally by, diversifying and demystifying the STEM pipeline. The social enterprise is building an Ikea for Education, where children develop their STEM confidence through building the toy kits.
In the short-term, impact metrics include the number of displaced children who receive a free kit and the number of creations built with kits. In the future, the social enterprise is also working to hire displaced adults to run STEM workshops, giving work directly.