IFC Invests $5 million in Coursera to Expand Free Online Education in Emerging Markets

Washington, D.C., July 10, 2013—IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, will invest $5 million to support the expansion of Coursera, a global platform for free online education classes that holds great potential for promoting access to high-quality university and vocational education for millions of students in developing countries.


“We created Coursera in response to real and pressing demands for quality, accessible education around the world, and today we are proud to be part of a growing movement that is making a tangible impact on this global challenge,” said Andrew Ng, co-founder of Coursera.

 “We’ve only just begun to realize the potential for technology to transform the way professors teach, the way universities and colleges deliver knowledge, and the way people access education, and we look forward to expanding our team, our partners, and our audiences to explore the many possibilities,” added Daphne Koller, another co-founder of Coursera.


Since its launch in April of 2012, Coursera has achieved remarkable growth and momentum toward its mission to expand quality learning opportunities around the world for free. Working together with 83 educational institutions across four continents, Coursera now offers around 400 free online college-level courses to more than 4 million students around the world. These include a range of courses that promote lifelong learning and vocational education and make students more attractive to employers.


“Demand for education in developing countries is growing rapidly due to population growth and the rising share of students seeking university education,” said Elena Sterlin, IFC Senior Manager for Health, Education, and Services. “Coursera’s innovative model is a breakthrough in delivering low-cost university and continuing education to students through online courses.” 


IFC is the largest multilateral investor in private education in emerging markets, investing to improve access, lower costs, and help students prepare for employment. IFC’s education portfolio stands at more than $660 million, encompassing 42 projects in 24 countries, including several of the world’s poorest.  The total value of these projects is about $1.8 billion.  In 2011, IFC’s private education projects helped benefit 1.4 million students while providing employment for 60,000 people.



Coursera believes in connecting people to a great education so that anyone around the world can learn without limits. Coursera is on a mission to educate millions of people by offering classes from top universities and institutions online for free. Coursera's comprehensive education platform combines mastery-based learning principles with video lectures, interactive content and a global community of peers, offering students a unique online learning experience. Coursera has partnered with top-tier universities and institutions to provide courses across a broad range of disciplines, including medicine, literature, history, computer science and the arts, among others. Coursera is financially backed by California Institute of Technology, GSV Capital, International Finance Corporation, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Laureate Education Inc., Learn Capital, New Enterprise Associates, University of Pennsylvania and X. For more information, visit Coursera.org.