Byju Raveendran is among the few to score 100 percent on India’s famously difficult Common Admission Test, a post-graduate entrance exam.
Having spent a few years teaching others how to ace the test, he became determined to solve a more basic problem — how to offer Indian students a world-class math education to prepare them for 21st-century jobs. Now, 900,000 users across India pay for subscriptions to Byju’s, the interactive app Raveendran created. Bolstered by financing from IFC and other investors, the app is expected to help narrow India’s education gap.
India is hardly the only country whose citizens crave high-quality services that can help their families thrive. Worldwide, IFC finances health and education companies that move societies forward. In FY18, we provided $769 million in financing to such companies, including funds mobilized from other investors. Our clients helped provide education for 5.7 million students and delivered health care to 41.2 million patients.
IFC’s efforts in education reached Jordan — where our $8.8 million investment in Luminus is helping students gain skills tailored to economic needs — and Africa, where our client Andela helps train and place students in technology jobs across the globe. Market-responsive education is a focus of IFC’s work in China, where we arranged a syndicated local-currency loan of about $200 million for the micro-loan unit of the technology company Baidu. This unit finances tuition fees for women enrolled in vocational training and business-focused institutions.
To assure the best match between a student’s education and her career prospects, we introduced an Employability Assessment Tool that allows institutions to evaluate the effectiveness of professional placement services. The tool goes beyond indicators like graduation and placement rates to assess the quality and relevance of learning — guiding educators to tailor their offerings to better suit employers’ needs.
We are working equally hard to improve people’s access to quality health care. In the Kyrgyz Republic, an IFC public-private partnership is building six dialysis centers that will serve more than 70 percent of the population. It is making possible at-home dialysis, which citizens never had access to before — easing hospitals’ load and reducing patients’ time, travel, and expense. A similar PPP in Bangladesh resulted in an eightfold increase in the country’s capacity to provide dialysis services. This addresses a significant social need in a nation where fewer than 10 percent of people with end-stage renal disease receive dialysis treatment.
In Kenya, expanding access to quality retail pharmacies is helping to transform health care. IFC’s investment of $3 million in Goodlife Pharmacy helped the chain add over 70 new outlets. Goodlife has become East Africa’s largest pharmaceutical retail company — operating over 100 licensed pharmacies with cutting-edge technology systems in high-traffic retail centers, gas stations, and health clinics.