To provide low-cost nursery and primary school education in poor neighbourhoods, Bridge International Academies has developed a vertically-integrated system. It includes operational tools and systems, curriculum materials, teacher recruitment, training processes. Its business model gives priority to academic quality using new technologies to support classroom teaching while keeping overheads and costs down in order to remain affordable.
Are social businesses able to provide efficient, sustainable, scalable solutions to problems that have traditionally been the preserve of the public sector? While few will argue that commercial businesses are the key to creating and sustaining jobs, many consider that a line has been crossed when for-profits enter sectors traditionally seen as public goods like nursery and primary education.1 Indeed, the UN special rapporteur on education, Kishore Singh declared that “For-profit education should not be allowed in order to safeguard the noble cause of education”.2 Yet there is a significant gap that needs to be addressed. Unicef estimates that there are still 58 million primary-age students globally who are out of school (UIS/EFA GMR, 2015). A recent article by Bookings Fellow Leisbet Steer reports that USD 26 billion in donor funding is needed every year to address this global education gap (Rose et al., 2013).