Omidyar Network is a philanthropic investment firm dedicated to harnessing the power of markets to help people improve their lives. Bridge International Academies operates a network of ultra low-cost, for-profit primary schools that deliver high-quality education in Africa. Omidyar Network’s equity investment will support the company’s aggressive expansion in Kenya and beyond.
Africa
Education
Equity
Undisclosed
Increase access to quality education for poor children in Africa
NAME Omidyar Network
INVESTOR
DESCRIPTION
Omidyar Network was established in 2004 by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife Pam. It is a philanthropic investment firm dedicated to harnessing the power of markets to create opportunity for people to improve their lives. Omidyar Network aims to catalyze positive social impact by using a flexible capital approach to philanthropy, making impact investments in for-profit companies as well as grants to nonprofit organizations that demonstrate innovation and potential for scale and sustainability.
NAME Bridge International Academies
SECTOR Education
GEOGRAPHY Sub-Saharan Africa – Kenya
INVESTEE
BUSINESS
MODEL
Bridge International Academies is a for-profit chain of nursery and primary schools delivering high-quality education for just USD 5 a month (on average) to families living on USD 2 a day or less per person. Driven by the belief that access to quality education has the greatest impact on reducing poverty, Bridge seeks to help children develop the knowledge and skills needed to improve their own lives and communities. The company’s mission is Knowledge for all.

The key to Bridge International Academies’ success lies in its vertically-integrated Academy-in-a-Box model. The company manages every step in the process of delivering high-quality education, from how to build an academy to how to teach inside the classroom. To keep quality up and prices down, Bridge leverages data, technology, and scale, and also provides all of the tools, curriculum, materials, systems, processes, training programs, technology, research, and monitoring practices needed to open and run an affordable, high-quality school. The standardization of the Academy-in-a-Box model has allowed Bridge to scale rapidly and to bring high-quality education to communities in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Part of Bridge International Academies’ model includes recruiting academy managers and teachers from the communities it serves, hiring top talent, and investing in their success. A teacher training program instills key skills using video-based training sessions. Teachers are further supported with scripted lesson plans for every concept and skill to be taught. These lessons are placed on tablets that, in addition to providing the scripts themselves, record pupil attendance and track assessments, syncing with Bridge headquarters in real time.

Bridge International Academies is highly data- and technology-driven, enabling the organization to drive down operating costs across activities, including curriculum management (stored online and communicated to teachers via tablets), student success tracking, and quality assurance. Data gathered from various sources such as satellite imagery and household surveys help drive decisions from site selection to academy improvements. In addition, Bridge is essentially cashless, using mobile money to collect fees from parents and make payments to contractors and suppliers.

ATTRACTIVENESS
FOR INVESTMENT
Bridge International Academies is an attractive investment opportunity to Omidyar Network because it is a compelling example of a high-impact, scalable, and entrepreneurial solution that addresses one of the most urgent demands of the developing world: low-cost access to quality education. Bridge demonstrates how for-profit innovation can drive social change by employing a unique business model that can be easily replicated in other emerging markets — the Academy-in-a-Box provides all the necessary tools to open and run academies efficiently and effectively. With investment capital provided by Omidyar Network and others, Bridge can continue its trajectory of growth and support a large network of academies that have the potential to transform the educational system in Africa and beyond.
INSTRUMENT Equity
INVESTMENT SIZE Omidyar Network invested in Bridge International Academies’ Series A, Series B, and Series C funding rounds. The total amount of invested capital is undisclosed.
SOURCE OF DEAL Omidyar Network was seeking compelling investment opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa and someone within the organization’s network made an introduction.
STAGE OF COMPANY AT TIME OF INVESTMENT Early
PURPOSE OF INVESTMENT Omidyar Network’s investment has been used to fund Bridge International Academies’ expansion. Specifically, the investment has enabled Bridge to build a talented management team, cover startup costs for new academies, and support overhead costs. Building upon its initial success in Kenya, Bridge’s goal is to operate in at least 12 countries across sub-Saharan Africa and India and have more than 10 million pupils by 2023. As of March 2013, Bridge was operating 134 academies in Kenya and serving more than 53,000 pupils.
INVESTMENT IMPACT OBJECTIVES Through its investment, Omidyar Network aims to increase the availability of high-quality, affordable education to low-income children in sub-Saharan Africa to improve the core academic skills of students and create new opportunities for them and their families. Bridge International Academies has already demonstrated impact, with pupils of its academies performing up to 205% better than their peers at other neighboring schools on international exams. Bridge also realizes positive economic impacts through direct employment. As the company expands, its network of academies will create jobs in local communities and provide income for an estimated 15,000 people by 2015.
SOCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL METRICS TRACKED ON INVESTMENT Omidyar Network tracks the following impact metrics on this investment, including IRIS metrics (IRIS alignment noted in parenthesis):

Reach of Company
- Number of academies opened
- Number of pupils educated (IRIS aligned School Enrollment PI2389)
- Number of teachers employed (IRIS aligned Teachers Employed OI5896)

Engagement of Those Served
- Monthly student retention rates
- Academic results (test-based)

Omidyar Network's Website >