Building Human Capital

Twelve-year-old Diana Kemunto dreams of being a doctor when she grows up.

But the path to a career in medicine is especially arduous for a child whose starting point is a Nairobi slum — where schoolteachers can be absent a third of the time and otherwise teach an average of just three-and-a-half hours a day.

This reality extends well beyond Diana’s neighborhood. In many developing countries, up to half of students who have completed elementary school cannot read a single sentence, and a third cannot do basic math because of the poor education they receive. More than 60 million children of primary-school age do not receive any education at all.

Without human capital — without the talent and drive of people in developing countries — poverty cannot be ended and prosperity cannot be sustained. IFC believes the private sector has an important role to play in this arena, complementing the efforts of governments. We provide finance and advice that helps the private sector deliver high-quality education and health care, giving people in poorer countries a shot at reaching their full productive potential.

In both areas, our aim is to expand access to high-quality services for lower- and middle-income people. We do that by introducing innovative and affordable means of financing and by improving standards of quality and efficiency. In the education sector, IFC helps schools strengthen skills that meet the needs of employers.

In Nairobi, Diana is benefiting from our $10 million investment in Bridge International Academies, which has created a new model for delivering education to children from poor families. She’s a student at a Bridge school, where teachers use computer tablets to deliver scripted lessons and carefully track student and teacher performance. Bridge plans to reach 10 million students in East Africa and India over the next decade.

IFC also supports new technologies and applications that have the potential to broaden access to education. Our client Coursera, for example, works with more than 100 top universities and educational institutions to offer about 700 free online college-level courses to more than 8 million students around the world. Our $5 million investment in Coursera in 2013 is expected to help the company expand its operations and reach more students in developing countries.

In FY14, IFC invested $139 million for our own account in the education sector, and an additional $173 million in the health sector. Our clients helped educate more than 2.5 million students and treated more than 27 million patients in 2013.