Case Study: Twenty One Toys
Twenty One Toys, a Youth Social Innovation Capital Fund (YSI) loan recipient, is a toy creation company re-imagining toys as tools for social change, organizational change, educational change and more. The for-profit social enterprise is revolutionizing the methods of teaching 21st century skills such as creativity, collaborative learning, innovation, and problem solving through their award-winning toy, CONNEXIONS™. CONNEXIONS™ is a 3-dimensional abstract puzzle with tactile and semantic clues and was originally designed for the Canadian National Institute for the Blind to bridge the communication gap between visually impaired elementary school students and their sighted classmates.
Challenge: The founder and CEO of Twenty One Toys, Ilana Ben-Ari, has set high standards for organizational goals. Her vision for CONNEXIONS™ includes the use of the toy as a tool for empathic learning and creative education for people of varying ages and abilities in classrooms and boardrooms around the world. However, without the necessary capital, Ben-Ari has struggled to initiate the manufacturing process and produce enough toys to meet demand.
The YSI Solution: Twenty One Toys and YSI saw an opportunity for a partnership that would create positive change. YSI distributed a $10,000 loan to Twenty One Toys in order for Ben-Ari to accomplish her organizational goals. With the loan, the company increased inventory of their toy and began to fill their sales orders. Says Ben Ari, “YSI allowed us to build our inventory. Without the loan, we would not have been able to satisfy customer demand.” This stockpile of inventory has enabled Ben-Ari to sell her toy to key customer segments such as schools and corporate training teams, while simultaneously fulfilling on-demand orders.
Twenty One Toys has also learned that a partnership with YSI does not just include financial support. YSI assesses the needs of their partners and connects them to resources to facilitate successful venture growth. As Ben-Ari explains, “A YSI loan is about more than just money. YSI became a partner in our success, connecting us to people and resources like SAM (Social Asset Measurements) who provided us with support and guidance.”
Moving Forward: The success of CONNEXIONS™ has encouraged Ben-Ari to scale operations and grow her team, as well as develop a broader line of new toys that nurture complex 21st-century skills. YSI is proud to have played such a key role in the growth of Twenty One Toys and is excited to be a part of their future developments.