Sub-Saharan Africa: a network of private schools for the middle class

Proparco, a subsidiary of French Development Agency (AFD) devoted to private-sector funding, and Investisseurs & Partenaires, an impact investment group dedicated to African Small and Medium Enterprises, have invested in the capital of Enko Education to support diversification and quality of regional education.


Since 2000, the adoption of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Education for All (EFA) has allowed unprecedented progress in education in Sub-Saharan Africa, where three out of four children are now in school, compared to just over one in two in 2000. These advances however have predominantly benefited the primary cycle: less than one in five pupils reached the last year of high school. In a region where 40% of the population is under 15 years of age, the development of educational systems remains a major challenge so as to ensure youth literacy; enhancing their capacity to integrate vocational or higher education and facilitating their self-development and future integration as professionals and citizens. The challenge now is to improve the quality of education and to increase investment in favor of secondary and higher education. This challenge remains in the context of fiscal contraction in numerous states, which cannot be met without the contribution of private actors.

More than 20 million students in the private sector

In sub-Saharan Africa, the private sector has, on average, 15% of primary pupils and 21% of high school, representing nearly 22 million children. However, this offer only applies for the moment to a minority. In West Africa for example, private actors mainly cater to the most advantaged population groups, often at annual school fess higher than 10,000 dollars. To date, there are no private school networks for the middle class, despite the growing demand for quality education and the shortcomings of the public system. It is in this context that Enko Education (Enko) was created.

An innovative business model

Cyrille Nkontchou, of Cameroonian nationality and Eric Pignot, of French nationality, founded Enko with the objective of structuring a pan-African private school network, accessible to the middle and upper classes. Operating from South Africa, Enko has already successfully launched the first two schools in Cameroon and Mozambique and made an acquisition in South Africa. Enko will further open three new structures in Cameroon and Ivory Coast as from September 2016. Ultimately, Enko aims to open more than 30 schools in over twenty countries, mainly in Francophone Africa and Southern Africa. The economic model of Enko is based on a partnership with local private schools. The partner institution brings its knowledge of the local education system, the link with students and infrastructure. Enko provides instructional design, innovative educational methods and educational curriculum for accreditation "International Baccalaureate" (IB) in one year. Enko also oversees the development and school management (recruitment of an experienced director, faculty, students, school administration etc.).

A springboard to the world’s best universities

Enko offers an opportunity for schools to join forces to develop a curriculum leading to the International Baccalaureate. The ambition of Enko schools enables young African talent to integrate into leading universities, giving them access to an international curriculum recognized by the best universities. Enko is well positioned from a price perspective when compared to international schools. Enko offers the IB in Africa with tuition fees divided on average by four, thanks to its asset-light model and local teachers trained in the IB. In focusing on the emerging African middle class, Enko also plans to integrate between 10% and 20 % of scholarship students in its school from the less advantaged.

The commitment of Proparco and Investisseurs & Partenaires

The investment of Proparco and I&P will fund the first years of operation of existing schools and the launch of new schools in 2016 and 2017. Their entry into the capital of Enko Education will also organize and formalize governance of the group. More broadly, this funding is to support the emergence of a private offering of quality education for the African middle class, in addition to enrollment efforts led by the countries, particularly supported by AFD, Proparco’s holding company. This project should also enable eventual employment of over 1300 people, half being teachers who have received training in the IB syllabus.

About Proparco

Proparco – a subsidiary of Agence Française de Développement (AFD) devoted to private-sector funding – has been supporting sustainable economic, social and environmental development for almost 40 years. Operating in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, the institution provides loans, makes equity investments and provides guarantees to help finance and support financial institutions and corporate private-sector projects. Proparco focuses on the key development areas, such as renewable energy-based infrastructure, agribusiness, financial institutions, health and education. Through its work, Proparco seeks to strengthen the contribution of private enterprise to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the international community in 2015. To do so, Proparco supports companies likely to create jobs, supply essential goods and services and, more broadly, help reduce poverty and mitigate climate change. Proparco is one of Europe’s leading development finance institutions, and spearheads a large number of joint programs with its peers.

About Investisseurs & Partenaires (I&P)

Investisseurs & Partenaires (I&P) is an impact investment group dedicated to African Small and Medium Enterprises. Since its creation in 2002, I&P has invested in more than 50 companies, located in 15 African countries and operating in various sectors of activity (health, transport, microfinance…). These enterprises create local “added value” and long-term employment, and generate important social, environmental and governance impact. Created by Patrice Hoppenot and headed by Jean-Michel Severino since 2011, the I&P team comprises about thirty collaborators in Paris and in its six African offices in Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, Ghana, Burkina Faso and Madagascar.

publie le 01/08/2016

top of the page