WEST AFRICA – The Mastercard Foundation has partnered with Investisseurs & Partenaires (I&P) to invest US$10.5 million in its I&P Education to Employment (IP2E) Fund to support businesses in the education sector to recover from the impact of COVID-19.
The 3-year investment program will accelerate 30 education entrepreneurs (edupreneurs) in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Senegal by addressing key challenges related to access, quality, and relevance faced within the sector.
The education start-ups and SMEs will be selected based on their capacity to offer quality education and training, while promoting employability and youth empowerment within their countries of operations.
“As a pioneering impact investment group, we have witnessed the gap between the available skills of young women and men and the needs of the job market,” said Emilie Debled, Executive Director for Strategic Developments & Partnerships at I&P.
“While African governments have limited means to solve these problems, the private sector is increasingly perceived as a possible complementary player that could boost access to, and the quality and relevance of education.”
By accelerating the work of edupreneurs and SMEs in the education space, the US$10.5 million program aims to impact 95,000 beneficiaries, including students, trainees, and ed-tech platform users served by these businesses, out of which 55% will be women and 33% disadvantaged youth.
“Providing a pathway to recovery for early stage edupreneurs and SMEs within the education sector will strengthen their operations, build resilience, and increase their social impact within the countries and communities in which they operate with a ripple effect on the improvement of education at a national level,” commented Nathalie Akon Gabala, Mastercard Foundation’s Regional Head for Western, Central and Northern Africa.
With support from the Mastercard Foundation COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience Program, IP2E will be able to deploy its Access Facility, a grant-based facility aimed at increasing access to quality education in Africa, to support SMEs in the education sector that have been severely hit by the pandemic.
“Although the education sector was heavily affected by the COVID-19 crisis, many edupreneurs doubled down on efforts to retain students and accelerate the use of digital tools in schools. This partnership will be instrumental in strengthening the resilience of these SMEs to provide young people with better pathways to education and employment,” said Domoina Rambeloarison, Director of the Access Facility at I&P.
The program will use mechanisms to ensure that the targeted SMEs are able to promote greater social inclusion among young people, especially young women and girls, who do not generally have the means to attend quality programs.
The program will pilot the design of income share agreements or scholarship programs with these education SMEs. In doing so, it will build the capacity of targeted SMEs to enhance access to their programs to young people, primarily young women.