Banjo Robinson is a magical, globe-trotting cat who helps increase literacy levels for children of all backgrounds. He sends real, personalised letters to children, twice a month, from exciting destinations like the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall of China, and the Northern Lights of Iceland.
Could you explain how Banjo Robinson works?
It’s a little bit like writing to Father Christmas, except all year round: kids write back to Banjo using the stationery and stickers provided, and leave their replies under the sofa for overnight collection by ‘Cat Mail’. Letters are personalised with details about each child’s interests, and more often than not, Banjo just happens to be best pals with their pet.
As a startup with an ambitious mission to increase literacy levels for children, we want to immerse ourselves in an environment which will be supportive of that social mission and enable us to grow as fast as possible – we believe that being part of the Future 20 is an important factor in creating that environment through mentoring, partners and our fellow cohort of social impact startups
UN Sustainable Development Goal addressed:
What critical problem are you addressing?
Our mission is to encourage children to become truly excited about reading, writing and exploring the world. By encouraging children to write to Banjo, and making the experience fun, we’re turning writing practice into a game, giving children the confidence to express themselves, and helping them to think creatively and empathetically.
What inspired you to start Banjo Robinson?
I started writing children’s stories, and one of my characters was a cat called Banjo who broke into the Taj Mahal, and something about him seemed to resonate with the children. Around this time, I’d gone to stay with a friend and her 6 year-old son Joe. When I left, I started sending him notes. I told Joe I needed to commission a boat in order to get to India; I asked him to design something for my boat builders, said it needed to feature 5 cannons, a steering wheel, a troupe of monkeys and an aquarium – and pretty soon we were pen pals. I started signing off my letters as ‘Banjo’, with a big paw print next to the name and Joe didn’t flinch. He seemed fully convinced that Banjo was writing to him, but it wasn’t until his mum mentioned that the letters had turned writing into a game, that the real benefit landed for me.
Find out more about Banjo Robinson