AFRICA – Emerging Capital Partners (ECP) has partnered with three development finance institutions, Proparco (France), Finnfund (Finland), and IFU (Denmark), to support growth and development of higher education institutions on the African continent.

Hurley Doddy, ECP Managing Director, Founding Partner, and Co-CEO, told Africa Global Funds that “ECP is excited about this opportunity to support quality higher education institutions in East and West Africa”.

The partnership establishes and finances African Edu Holdings (AEH), a portfolio company dedicated to improving access to quality higher education on the continent. Total investment is US$22.23m.

The Danish SDG Investment Fund, managed by IFU, has invested US$6.67m in AEH, whereas Proparco, a subsidiary of Agence Française de Développement (AFD), has invested US$7m, and Finnish development financier Finnfund has contributed US$7m.

The African Development Bank estimates that 10 to 12 million young people enter the workforce each year and the working-age population is expected to rise by 450 million by 2035.

Since its establishment, AEH has partnered with Maarifa Education Group in East Africa and Takafa Education Group in French-speaking West Africa.

Currently, Maarifa Education owns and operates two universities, Cavendish University Uganda (CUU) and Cavendish University Zambia (CUZ), which have nearly 8,000 students.

Takafa Education’s operations include two universities, Institut Africain de Management (IAM) Senegal and IAM Mali, which serve over 3,000 students and have graduated more than 35,500 students from various programs since its creation in 1996.

As a result of this partnership, the Cavendish universities and the IAM group will be able to fortify their positions by enhancing academic programs, expanding operations, and increasing collaborations with international educational institutions.

Doddy said: “ECP restructured its investment into Maarifa to facilitate capital injection from the partner DFIs. This in turn facilitated the investment into Takafa Holding, a West African higher educational platform operating Institut Africain de Management (IAM) in Senegal and Mali.”

 “The investment will also facilitate shared lessons learned and operating policy enhancements. ECP anticipates that these universities will directly contribute to SDG 4 relating to global quality education and, by prioritizing market-relevant education, will also contribute to SDG 8 relating to job opportunities and economic growth,” he said.

This investment comes a month after Mr. Bruno Le Maire, Minister of the Economy and Finance, announced the launch of a Call for Expressions of Interest for an investment fund dedicated to Africa.

The initiative, which PROPARCO will be involved in as an investor, aims to attract private investors and a French and/or European manager on the private equity market in Africa.