Bridge International Academies

Market Need – Affordable, Quality Education

Bridge International AcademiesQuality education is a fundamental prerequisite to breaking cycles of poverty. Yet, the state-funded education system in many sub-Sahara African countries is stressed and underperforming. Acute teacher shortages, limited physical infrastructure and ineffective teaching methods are compounded by the lack of accountability and incentives to improve performance. As a result, students perform at the 3rd percentile compared to children from developed countries. Meanwhile, so-called “universal free education” is often not free, as students pay $2 – 5 per month in ad hoc desk, exam, and school maintenance fees. 

Investment – Bridge International Academies

Children in a classroomBridge International Academies is expanding access to affordable high-quality primary education for poor families in Kenya and beyond. Bridge has developed a comprehensive “school-in-a-box” model that includes all of the operational tools and systems, curriculum materials, teacher recruitment and training processes to build, open, grow, manage and rapidly replicate affordable, high-quality schools on franchise principles. 

At $5 per student per month, a Bridge education is accessible to 90% of families in the Nairobi slums. With a profitable model, Bridge can pursue aggressive expansion, aiming to operate 1,800 schools serving 1 million students by the end of 2015. In addition to providing an effective education option for low-income families, Bridge schools also create jobs and provide income for education workers in local communities.

Early results are encouraging. When SpringHill invested in June 2009, Bridge was opening its second school. By February 2013, Bridge:

  • Built and opened 134 schools serving more than 53,000 students
  • Hired and trained 2,007 academy staff
  • Created a fully scripted, dynamic curriculum on electronic tablets used by teachers
  • Achieved student test scores in literacy and math that are far superior to peer schools
  • Developed the systems, processes and capital base to enable exponential expansion
  • Is opening a new school in Kenya every 3 to 5 days.
The ‘market’ for such affordable high-quality education in low-income communities is immense. Impressed by the motivation and competence of Bridge’s entrepreneurial leadership and the “school-in-a-box” model they had developed, SpringHill was one of the early outside investors in Bridge International Academies. Since our pre-A-round commitment in June 2009, Bridge has closed A, B and C investment rounds attracting significant investment from Omidyar Network, NEA, and Khosla Ventures.