IFC Expands Support for Education in the Middle East and North Africa

Washington, D.C., February 25, 2010 — IFC is expanding its support for the development of primary and secondary education in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) through a $22 million investment ($14 million debt and $8 million equity) in First Education Holding, a leading high-quality education company that caters to middle- and low-income families in the MENA region.

Affordable, internationally-recognized, and high-quality private education – at both the primary and secondary levels – has become a key focus in the MENA region, according to IFC.

The project will support the acquisition of two established K-12 schools in Amman, Jordan that provide education services to a significant number of students.

“First Education Holding will undertake projects that enhance existing provision by delivering school improvement initiatives,” said Louay Khatib, Managing Director of First Education Holding.

The project will increase access to education, improve the quality of services and facilities, implement higher standards, provide equal learning opportunities for children with special learning needs, and increase employment for women in the region.

“This investment gives us the opportunity to expand our support for the region’s education sector by increasing access and raising standards,” said Guy Ellena, IFC Director for Health and Education. "It also reflects an IFC strategic priority to support the growth of providers and networks across countries and regions," he added.

IFC’s education strategy for the Middle East and North Africa is to support providers that can help increase access to services in underserved areas, move down-market to reach lower-income households, and provide local employment opportunities for skilled professionals.

“IFC is pleased to work with a partner who is committed to the promotion and expansion of high-quality education in the region,” noted Michael Essex, IFC Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

Established in 2007, First Education Holding owns and manages a chain of nurseries in Egypt (the Baby Academy) with 628 students and two private schools in the United Arab Emirates catering to 2,858 students and employing 655 staff. The company provides strategic management support to schools, thereby optimizing the growth and quality of its education businesses.

IFC’s Engagement in the Education Sector

Investment in education is a strategic priority and focus for IFC. Our role includes direct investment in companies, sharing industry knowledge and experience, and informing government policy that affects the private education sector. We support the start-up or expansion of initiatives in primary, secondary, technical and vocational, and tertiary education. IFC works with partners who apply best practices, thereby promoting the growth of efficient and effective institutions that create an important public good in an economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable way. IFC also invests with local and regional partners who provide innovative and high-quality services which are able to reach beyond the main urban centers. Our clients include for-profit and not-for-profit entities.

Why is IFC Involved in Education?

  • To expand access to quality education to middle- and lower- income groups.
  • To introduce innovative means of financing and delivering services.
  • To improve standards of quality and efficiency.
  • To facilitate the international exchange of best practice.
  • To help students and institutions obtain access to finance.
  • To complement the public sector in order to achieve national education goals.

Facts about IFC’s Activities in Education

  • IFC is the world’s largest multilateral investor in the private education sector in emerging markets.
  • As of January 2010, IFC committed $469 million in financing to 62 education projects in 30 countries at a total value of $1.54 billion.
  • 21 IFC education projects (35%) were in the world’s poorest countries.
  • IFC-supported education projects employ about 16,000 people in developing countries.
  • IFC-supported projects educate about one million students annually.

How to Apply for IFC Financing

A company or entrepreneur seeking to establish a new education project or expand an existing one can approach IFC directly with an investment proposal. IFC’s Website, www.ifc.org/che,offers more details on how to apply.


Ludi Joseph
Senior Communications Officer
Health & Education Department, IFC
Email: ljoseph@ifc.org
Tel. +1 (202) 473-7700
Website: www.ifc.org/che