About Us

The MiniChess stable of Capacity-building programs is a Game-changer for the 21st Century education – utilizing complex and creative play-innovations to develop critical skills from the early ages, for a sustainable future for humans in the time of smart machines.

It’s YOUR move: SMART START for an empowered mindset & Entrepreneurial future!

More About MiniChess


The award-winning MiniChess & MindCo programs were developed by Marisa van der Merwe in South Africa and are now being implemented in 9 countries as well as Online over-borders. She won the Shoprite-Checkers Women of the Year award (Category Education) in 2012, is a recognized international speaker, an Ashoka Fellow, and is a Trustee of The Entrust Foundation (a non-profit PBO, championing community empowerment in disadvantaged communities). The play-based engagement moves over barriers of age, gender, culture, language, and physical abilities – is inter-active, joyful, meaningful, and social, while developing resilience, creativity, thinking/reflection, cooperation, and emotional skills.


The MiniChess Program-impact:
1) Early Childhood Education – defining the future, not only of individuals and communities but for the Country’s knowledge capital in the 21st Century. Starting early and smart is the only way to harness the most powerful energy in the world: human talent.
2) In-Community collaboration and empowerment, through a system of local project-implementers as Micro-Franchisees, forms the key to mobilize a country of social-entrepreneurs – rooted in sustainable leadership and a compelling force for the common good.
3) Change-makers in Education are building the global future, and are hereby invited to invest in pattern-breaking, powerful, education-innovations and the people behind them.
MiniChess & MindCo in South Africa has impacted 100,000+ children and 1500+ trained teachers. MiniChess also serves 5 countries in Africa as well as 2 countries in Central Asia, New Zealand & China, with a successful Pilot-program in the USA and starting in Germany.

Education Re-design for Post-Covid Global Economic Revival

“Health is the priority – but Education is the solution” – Gordon Brown, UN Envoy for Education.
The Covid-crisis has disrupted Education globally & permanently. MiniChess & MindCo forms part of the New-generation Education-strategy: fast-tracking the development of critical skills through inter-disciplinary, integrated learning innovations, for new workplace demand.
Corporate leadership needs to be visionary:
  • Education is the ROOT for realizing the POTENTIAL of the FUTURE.
  • Saving future-relevant education will save other industries – to include ALL in the recovery.
  • See Education-contribution as support for future skills & future sustainability, for a more prosperous future.

The MiniChess Team

Marisa van der Merwe: Founder & CEO


Willem van der Merwe: Management


Wyna Roestorff: Our dedicated National Coordinator and Finance-manager


Michela Da Cal
Michela Da Cal: Office Administration


Emanuel Pietersen Marketing Exec
Emanuel Pietersen: Marketing and CI Executive


Minkie Stoop: Data basis capturing

Anna Mashamaite: Taking good care of general Office support and cleaning services

Jan Shabangu: General support with stock, building- & terrain security and services


Certificates & Awards

EDUWEEK Award, 2018

Early Childhood Development Supplier on the Year, MiniChess

SACBW Award, 2018

Outstanding women in business in SA and Winner in the Community category

SACBW Award, 2017

Business Woman of the Year, 2nd Runner up

10th Global Visual Literacy Conference, 2016

Co-present on topic: “Creative engagement: Thinking with children”

The KCF Global Summit, 27 April 2015

Invited Speaker (St Louis, US)

Launch in Central Asia, 27-28 March 2015

Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic

Bi-Annual Global Conference of the Association for Childhood Education International, 2014

Vancouver, Canada

WISE Conference, 2014 & 2015

Invited Speaker at the WISE Conference, 2014

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The Chess & Mathematics London Conference, 2013, 2014 & 2015

Invited to present at the conference

SHOPRITE Checkers, Woman of the Year Award, 2012

Vancouver, Canada

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Your Next Move, 2011

Marisa van der Merwe, the MiniChess Founder & CEO was invited to play chess with Garry Kasparov

Endorsed by Garry Kasparov, 2011

We are honoured that Garry Kasparov endorses the MiniChess program

Quoted by Garry Kasparov

Recognition – Newspaper Articles

Article published in Beeld, 2013

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Article published in the Tshwane Beeld, 2012

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Article published in the Pretoria News, 2010

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Article published in the Beeld, 2013

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Article published in the Rekord Oos, 2012

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Article published in The Centurion, 2012

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Global Footprint