The International Finance Corporation is one of the world’s largest investors in global education. As part of the World Bank, the IFC works to deliver solutions to poverty in some of the most deprived areas of the world, with a focus on providing quality education and vocational training to help lift people into employment.
The World Bank Group is recognised as the world’s largest multilateral investor when it comes to the education sector, with an investment portfolio valued at over $14 billion. The IFC mobilises co-investors and co-lenders, uses its own capital, and borrows more capital to be able to invest heavily in education projects around the world.
While there is a strong focus with IFC investment on the vocational training and higher education end of the spectrum, the Bridge Kenya IFC partnership concentrates more on local primary and pre-primary education.
As CEO of the IFC, Philippe Le Houérou commented at the annual meeting of the World Bank Group in Bali, Indonesia that the innovative model followed by Bridge International Academies in Kenya has the potential to be part of the solution in terms of educational provision. Houérou grew up in Africa and was therefore able to draw on first-hand experiences of the poor quality of the public education and healthcare services. Bridge Kenya seeks to fill in the gaps in the public school system through the provision of quality education at primary and pre-primary level.
The IFC currently invests approximately 20% of its portfolio in teacher training, education technology and publishing. Almost 75% is dedicated to higher education, including both universities and vocational education and training. With better access to university degrees and vocational training opportunities, the future workforce becomes better skilled and better equipped to meet the growing needs of African economies. As new economies emerge, there is an increased need for inclusive growth and increased productivity. A wider pool of qualified and skilled workers facilitates this growth. IFC’s Global Head of Education Salah-Eddine Kandri comments that the IFC chose to invest in Bridge Kenya due to the disruptive nature of the business model, which has the potential to bring high-quality education to millions of children living in poverty. The World Bank is currently conducting research into the causal impacts of this type of school model for education, which will help ensure the sector more widely can be better regulated.