Nairobi — International Finance Corporation (IFC) said on Tuesday that it plans to invest approximately 500 million U.S. dollars in Kenya in 2014.
IFC's Vice President for Sub Saharan Africa Jean Philippe told journalists in Nairobi the funds will be injected across the renewable energy, agribusiness and education sectors.
"Kenya's growing economy offers investment opportunities in sectors that serve the low income segment of society," Philippe said when the IFC signed an equity investment agreement with Bridge International Academies.
Under the agreement, IFC will invest 10 million dollars in equity in order to support the expansion of Bridge International Academies. He added that IFC's current portfolio in Kenya stands at 800 million dollars.
The Vice President said that IFC is one of the biggest investors in private education in emerging markets. "The investments are targeted at improving access to education, lowering costs as well as helping students prepare for employment, " he said.
IFC Director for Eastern and Southern Africa Cheikh Seydi said that IFC's investment in the education sector seeks to have a positive impact on the poor. Seydi said that most of Kenya's public sector schools are operating beyond their capacity.
"As a result, students often achieve lower test scores compared to their counterparts in the private sector schools," she said.
Bridge International Academies Co-founder Shannon May said that Britain based Commonwealth Development Corporation (CDC) has also invested 6 million dollars in equity in the schools.
"The funds will be used to increase the number of schools across the developing world. We are planning to start operations in Uganda and Nigeria by the end of 2014 and in India in 2015," Shannon said.
Bridge International already operates 250 schools in Kenya that serve pupils whose households live on less than two dollars per day person.
Shannon, who is also the Chief Strategy and Development Officer at Bridge International Academies, said that her organization already educates 80,000 children. "Our goal is to reach 10 million children by the end of 2025," he said.
IFC Executive Vice President and CEO Jin-Yong Cai said that his organization's total education portfolio stands at 651 million dollars across 24 countries.
"As of last year, the private education projects helped benefit over 1 million students while providing employment opportunities to over 50,000 people," he said.
"High-quality and affordable education has the potential to transform the lives of children living in poverty," he said.
As at the end of 2013, IFC global investments reached 25 billion dollars and have leveraged the power of the private sector to create jobs.
CDC's Regional Director for Africa Dolika Banda said that their investment into Bridge Academies International will support the company to create almost 10,000 new jobs, both in Kenya and in other developing countries.
Bridge International Academies Head of Marketing Marie Leznicki said that her chain of schools has established a new model for delivering quality education.
"We leverage on technology, data and scale in order to standardize content development and teacher training," she said.
Leznicki said that their schools charge on average of six dollars per month in fees. "This allows all children from poor families to receive quality education and for the academies to be self sustaining," she said.