Centum, Investbridge and SABIS® to launch education investment company

AA – Centum Investment Company Limited (“Centum”) and Investbridge Capital (“IBC”) announced today that they have partnered with SABIS® Holdings (SABIS®) to launch a new company that will invest in the burgeoning education sector in Africa. The tri-partite consortium will be responsible for the acquisition and development of a network of schools across Africa, which will be operated as part of the SABIS® Network, a world renowned and distinguished education network with more than 70,000 students across four continents.

Centum and IBC will co-manage the company and drive the acquisition and development of the schools. Based in Kenya, Centum is one of East Africa’s leading investment firms, with over US$ 2 billion of Assets under Management (AUMs). Its real estate development subsidiary, Athena, is a market leader in master developments and mixed-use properties. Centum is publically traded on both the Kenyan and Ugandan securities exchanges. Investbridge Capital, is a privately-owned, DFSA regulated asset manager and corporate advisory firm with a specialty in sponsoring real estate development and financing in the MENA region.

James M. Mworia, Chief Executive Officer of Centum, said: “Education is one of the key areas of growth across the African Continent. Kenya, in particular, is currently undergoing a transformational phase for quality K-12 education. Investment in education leads to growth in opportunities, job creation and speeding the pace of development. It democratises citizens’ access to economic opportunities and generates a multiplier impact for progress. Partnering with SABIS® allows us to bring a partner who is passionate about educating children. Their K-12 schools carry a global track record of outstanding educational performance compared against all industry standards of measurement. Through our partnership with Investbridge, we garner deep insight into the education sector in which SABIS has successfully operated for over a century. Investbridge is an important partner in the creation of new businesses in line with our strategy. This project translates our vision of becoming active sector sponsors in areas that represent basic needs for the growing population in the region, such as education, healthcare and agriculture. ”

He added that Centum’s real estate focus is on creating new communicates, and education is an anchor for these communities. This partnership with SABIS, provides an opportunity to offer a high quality education at affordable prices.” The partnership is also a demonstration of Centum’s ability and focus to attract high quality capital and sector expertise, in line with its sector focus strategy.

Mark DeSario, Chief Executive Officer of Investbridge Capital, said: “A young and growing population, government support and urbanisation will drive expansion in K-12 education in Africa, currently considered one of the last major frontiers of GDP growth. This new company will strive to replicate the successful business model of affordable, world-class quality education that SABIS® has built since its inception in 1886, while giving investors exposure to the booming private education sector across Africa. With our partners at Centum, a market leader in sponsoring new business development in sectors such as education, health care and real estate, among others, and SABIS® a fourth generation family business deep-rooted in education with extensive experience in delivering world-class education platforms to emerging and mature markets, we believe we have the perfect formula for launching this Education Company for Africa. The consortium plans to build over 20 schools in Africa over the next three to five years, with the cost of each individual school ranging between AED 74 million (US$ 20 million) to AED 111 million (US$ 30 million).”

The schools will be owned by a newly-formed holding company that will initially be funded by the three partners. The consortium plans to allow select investors to participate in the investment, which they believe, over the long-term, will provide very attractive returns.

The consortium has already identified Kenya as the target country for its first school, with sights to quickly move into the surrounding East African markets of Uganda and Tanzania, further expansion in Egypt, as well as launching in other markets across the continent as opportunities arise. The decision to launch a school is largely determined by the ability to acquire the requisite land in a district where the population, both current and projected, supports a student body.

The announcement comes on the back of a meeting for the sub-Saharan Africa countries this month, where African leaders pledged support for more public and private investments in education. Currently, a majority of African countries allocate between two to five percent of their Gross Domestic Products (GDP) to the education sector. Today, Africa is the second most populous region in the world, with approximately one billion people of which over 40% is under 15 years of age.

With a growing middle class and the recognition for the importance of good quality education by African parents, demand for international well-renowned schools have been rising rapidly. The consortium plans to capitalise on this through providing the desired quality and relevant education, made easily accessible to African children.

Carl Bistany, President of SABIS®, commented: “We are confident that this partnership with Centum and Investbridge will make a lasting and positive contribution to the communities it serves, just as schools in our network have done in the 16 countries we currently operate in. With our innovative proprietary curriculum, cutting-edge IT tools, a non-selective admissions policy and a long-standing commitment to raise education standards around the world, SABIS® is uniquely positioned to provide top-quality education at scale on the African continent and help all students achieve their full potential.”

Mark DeSario concluded: “We believe that this consortium can play a crucial role in helping meet the huge demand for quality education in Africa. Having the opportunity to partner with SABIS and Centum should help accelerate the growth of the student population of SABIS®, where we hope to launch more than two dozen schools and increase the number of students enrolled SABIS® network schools by 50% over the next 10 years.”

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