Extending the Reach of Education

©Francisco Osorio/University Life/Flickr

Expanding access to quality and affordable education is a central element to eliminating extreme poverty and promoting shared prosperity. Educated individuals have more chances to find and hold a job. They are also able to earn higher wages, cope better with economic shocks, and raise healthier children.

Yet, governments in developing countries often do not have the resources to offer education to all their citizens. That’s where private education providers play a critical role. They can deliver education, skills, and training that is relevant to the needs of the labor markets.

IFC helps build capacity in private education in emerging markets to create more opportunities for children, youth, and working adults, complementing the offering of the public sector.

We invest and offer advisory services to help private education providers grow to reach more students in middle and low-income groups and to promote higher quality of education. We also support companies that have a particular emphasis on providing knowledge and skills that lead to employability. 

Our $100 million investment in private education group Estácio Participações, for example, is helping it expand access to quality and affordable education in Brazil, where penetration of higher education is still low by international standards. The country’s Gross Enrollment Rate in tertiary education is about 32 percent, nearly half the ratio found in other countries in the region such as Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay. Improving access to postsecondary education is critical to increase Brazil’s competitiveness and its ability to innovate.

In Nigeria, where more than 11 million youths are unemployed, we are supporting Andela, an early-stage education company that recruits talented people and trains them to become professional software developers. Selected candidates start with an intensive three-to-six month training and later get an actual job placement where they work remotely with a company such as Microsoft and Google.

Andela currently employs 160 people, and nearly 20 percent of them are females. By 2019, the target is to increase the number of employees more than tenfold, and ultimately train 100,000 software developers across Africa in 10 years.

This project is supported in partnership with Learn Capital Venture Partners III L.P.—an early-stage venture fund anchored by IFC that expands access to quality education through innovative ed-tech companies in emerging markets. Initiatives like this makes it possible for IFC to reach smaller companies at an earlier stage of development than an IFC's typical investee client.

 


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Published in April 2016