December 8, 2009, REDWOOD CITY, Calif. and NAIROBI— Bridge International Academies announced today it received a $1.8 million investment from Omidyar Network to scale a network of primary schools that will educate more than one million impoverished children in Africa. In January 2010, Bridge International will open five affordable schools in Nairobi, educating more than 1000 new students next year. Bridge International also announced Matt Bannick, Managing Partner at Omidyar Network, will join the board.
With Omidyar Network’s investment, Bridge International will rapidly increase access to high-quality affordable education to poor families across Africa,” said Jay Kimmelman, Bridge International’s Co-Founder and CEO. “By preparing a generation of children with a solid foundation in literacy, numeracy, and problem-solving, we aim to not only transform the lives of millions of children and their families, but to catalyze increased development in the region and ultimately, the continent.”
Bridge International’s innovative for-profit model has been designed and successfully tested to provide a sustainable, scalable approach to education. On average, children in Africa perform at the 3rd percentile academically compared to children from developed countries. Bridge International works to close this gap through a network of outstanding-quality schools that nonetheless cost less than $4/month per student.
Employing world-class franchising techniques, Bridge International provides a complete ‘school in a box’ so local managers can operate schools on an extremely low-cost, but profitable basis. These profits, in turn, help fund the development of additional schools in the network. Building upon its success in Kenya, Bridge International plans to expand into additional sub-Saharan Africa countries, establishing 1800 schools by 2015. Once at capacity, these schools will also create jobs and provide income for 15,000 education workers in local communities.
“Bridge International has created a ground-breaking model that addresses one of the most urgent challenges of the developing world,” said Matt Bannick, Managing Partner of Omidyar Network. “A compelling example of high-impact entrepreneurship, Bridge International is not only extending access to education, but also serving as an model of how others can ignite social change through for-profit innovation.”
About Bridge International Academies
Bridge International Academies’ mission is to revolutionize access to affordable, high-quality primary education for poor families across Africa. Founded in 2007 by Jay Kimmelman, Shannon May and Phil Frei, the company opened the first schools in its franchise-like network of ultra low-cost for-profit private primary schools in 2009. Its schools profitably deliver high-quality education for less than $4 per child per month, enabling local school managers to operate their school businesses profitably, while creating a highly successful business at the central level.
About Omidyar Network
Omidyar Network is a philanthropic investment firm dedicated to harnessing the power of markets to create opportunity for people to improve their lives. Established in 2004 by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife Pam, the organization invests in and helps scale innovative organizations to catalyze economic and social change. To date, Omidyar Network has committed more than $300 million to for-profit companies and nonprofit organizations that foster economic advancement and encourage individual participation across multiple investment areas, including microfinance, property rights, government transparency, and social media. To learn more about Omidyar Network, please visit www.omidyar.com.