IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, will invest $10 million in equity to support the expansion of Bridge
International Academies, a provider of high-quality primary and pre-primary education for children from poor families. CDC, the UK’s development finance institution, will invest $6 million in equity alongside IFC. The funding will support the company’s plans to expand to more countries in Africa, where Bridge presently operates, as well as in India. While Bridge already educates 80,000 children, the organization’s mission is to reach ten million over the next decade.
Bridge International Academies, founded in 2008, now operates over 250 schools in Kenya teaching the national curriculum, serving pupils from families who live on less than $2 per day per person. Bridge has established a new model for delivering quality education, leveraging data, technology, and scale to standardize everything from content development and teacher training to academy construction and billing. Teachers use computer tablets to deliver dynamic, scripted lessons prepared by a world class content team. The tablets also track lesson pacing, lesson completion, and assessment scores, which are used to adjust and improve future lesson materials, and guide continuous professional development for teachers.
This standardized approach enables Bridge International Academies to deliver affordable education, charging an average of just over $6 per month in fees. This makes it possible for poor families to send all of their children—girls and boys—to a quality school and for each academy to be self-sustaining. Independent testing shows that Bridge pupils consistently outperform students at public and other low-cost private schools by wide margins in reading and math. Bridge International Academies presently offers three years of early childhood education, and seven years of primary education (Classes 1-7). Class 8 will be added in 2015.
The company directly employs over 3,000 people, with all the teachers living in the communities where they work. Indirectly, Bridge provides work for thousands more in construction, supplies, distribution and water.
“All children, regardless of family income, deserve a chance to get the education they need to improve their lives and contribute to society. All parents deserve the opportunity to see their children succeed,” said Shannon May, Co-founder and Chief Strategy and Development Officer at Bridge International Academies. “We look forward to placing tens of thousands of low-income children into top public secondary schools where they will continue to thrive.”
“High-quality, affordable education has the potential to expand access to education for the poor in developing countries, and transform the lives of children living in poverty,” said IFC Executive Vice President and CEO Jin-Yong Cai.
“As well as having the potential to transform education for children from
low-income families, Bridge is already a large employer in Kenya,
particularly amongst 24 – 35 year olds who were previously unemployed. The investment will support the company to create almost 10,000 new jobs, both in Kenya and in other developing countries,” said Dolika Banda, CDC’s Regional Director for Africa.
IFC is the largest multilateral investor in private education in emerging markets. We invest with the objectives of improving access, lowering costs and helping students prepare for employment. IFC’s education portfolio stands at $651 million, encompassing over 60 projects in 24 countries, including several of the world’s poorest. In 2013, IFC’s private education projects helped benefit over 1 million students while providing employment for over 50,000 people.
About Bridge International Academies
Bridge International Academies is the world’s largest chain of pre-primary and primary schools, working tirelessly to bring world-class education to the poorest of the poor, democratizing the right to succeed. Bridge International Academies’ vertically integrated Academy-in-a-Box approach has reengineered the entire lifecycle of basic education, leveraging data, technology, and scale in order to keep quality up and prices a low as $6 a
month (on average). The company’s mission is Knowledge for all. As of
January 2014, only 5 years into its operation, Bridge already operates over 250 academies in Kenya educating 80,000 pupils, and is on track to hit its vision of educating 10,000,000 pupils in over a dozen countries by 2025.
Latest testing shows that Bridge pupils score an average of 35% higher on core reading skills and 19% higher in math than their peers in neighboring schools!