In the Know

| Caroline Cornil
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Social Challenge and Innovative Solution

Children with long term or chronic disease also have to face the challenge of not being able to attend classes, which can lead to being socially isolated.

To help these children and ensure that they can complete their education as smoothly as possible, Bednet invented a real-time distance education system. It is available for children from the age of 5 (in pre-school) to pupils of primary and secondary schools. All state-subsidised and recognised schools in Flanders and Brussels can receive this system. The equipment and the counselling is free for schools and families throughout the period the child needs it.

Thanks to Bednet, sick children put their illness aside for a moment and feel that they are going forward in life. They can keep in touch with their classmates, they are not completely isolated anymore and they can continue learning.


Key Social Impact Figures

June 2017

Number of children supported annually
Unit cost reduction per child

Investing for Impact

How it started

King Baudouin Foundation’s Venture Philanthropy Fund was launched in 2009 as part of a drive to diversify and modernise its philanthropic tools. It aims to consolidate organisations (as opposed to ‘one-off projects’), strengthening them on the long term with financial resources, but also external expertise and network-building. Every year KBF launches a formal call for projects for social enterprises who need support to expand their activities or keep up their social impact. It selects candidates based on:

  • The quality of their leadership;
  • Their potential societal impact;
  • The transparency of the organisation with respect to the VP Fund, and willingness to work in partnership;
  • The added value of specific support by the VPF for the organisation;
  • The potential for duplication or dissemination outside the organisation.

Bednet submitted their application in 2011 and was selected because of their innovative approach. At the time they were the only provider of a synchronous internet education system for sick children in Belgium – now a similar system is taking off in Wallonia as well. They showed great potential to have a real social impact: they wanted to help all pupils with long-term and chronic diseases in Flanders. They were looking to strengthen the organisation structural growth to be able to offer their services to all long-term and chronic sick pupils in Dutch-speaking communities in Belgium. But they were facing challenges in terms of financial and ICT resources and the existing business model.

Support provided

First phase

KBF provided a first round of financial support with a €80,000 grant for the period between 2011 and 2014. Additionally, they benefitted from pro-bono consultancy by One Child One Dream (Kenneth Bonheur – McKinsey).

During this first support phase, the organisational processes were mapped and optimised, a new organisational structure devised, the IT platform upgraded and communication work undertaken. A long-term strategy was also set out.

Bednet’s first period of support came to a successful end in late 2014. The organisation achieved its set objectives, namely to professionalise itself in order to increase its efficiency and so help more children with the same resources. In the long term, the aim of the support was to lay the foundation for a sustainable and structural embedding of the organisation.

As of September 2015, Bednet can rely on structural funding from the government. Synchronised online education was structurally enshrined in the Flemish government’s Education Decree XXIV. This means that Bednet will have a guaranteed right to public funding, in return for helping 600 children per year (compared with 551 at present).

Second phase

In early 2015, KBF gave Bednet a second round of support: a €75,000 grant with payments related with results, to carry out a major internal transformation process which will enable Bednet to implement the decree and expand its organisation.

During this second phase, the following work has been delivered so far: a diagnosis of the current organisation has been carried out and a new organisational structure outlined and submitted to the board of directors. This structure has been implemented in the meantime. Moreover, prototypes have been prepared and implemented for pre-schoolers, who can’t use a mouse, so a new piece of software has been be developed. For secondary schools, a mobile structure has been built so that the system can be moved in the school, increasing its efficiency. There will already be 300 sets of these mobile structures available as of September 2017.

Non-financial support

Theory of Change, Impact Strategy, IMM

Theory of Change, Impact Strategy, IMM

Theory of Change, Impact Strategy, IMM

Revenue strategy

Revenue strategy

Revenue strategy

Management team and CEO support

Management team and CEO support

Management team and CEO support




Operational management

Operational management

Operational management

Impact Measurement

As of June 2017





Increase in number of children supported # Bednet children 1000 children supported by 2018 511 (further growth to 1000 children expected by 2018)
Increase in efficiency Cost per child per year From 5,000 to 3,500  17% decrease

The following qualitative indicators also supported the accomplishment of above results:

  • To increase number of children supported:
    • Imbedding Bednet in Flemish education system
    • Internal working document related to future scenarios prepared – long-term strategy developed
    • Development of prototype for kindergarten (additional target group).
  • To increase the efficiency:
    • Mapping and optimisation of the organisational processes
    • Development and implementation of the organisational structure and responsibilities to accommodate the growth
    • Development of a mobile ‘in one piece’ prototype.


“King Baudouin Foundation’s support is noticeable in several areas. We’ve quickly moved from being a small pioneering organisation with scant resources into a larger one using public funds and procurement. That’s a big transformation to make, but our purpose has stayed the same, namely to ensure that children suffering from long-term or chronic illness could continue having ties with their class. In Flanders, “synchronous online education” has been a right enshrined by decree since 2015, making us global pioneers in this area.”
Els Janssens, Managing Director, Bednet

What's Next?

KBF and Bednet will also explore the possibilities of expanding the system to other target groups and regions. It could have an added value for children with disabilities, expats’ children, children in closed institutions, etc.

Funding Timeline:
Financial support:
SDGs tackled: