UNICAF, an Africa-focused provider of University-level programs, is receiving an $11.5 million equity investment from CDC, the UK’s development finance institution. University Ventures and Savannah Fund also participated in the round. As part of the deal, former CDC Board Member Jonathan Kydd, a development economist and higher education expert, joins UNICAF’s Board of Directors.
The capital will be used to support UNICAF’s plans to establish higher education learning centers in several African cities, including the completion of a University campus in Malawi. The company, which was established in 2012, partners with Western universities to offer its own locally-accredited degrees to young professionals on the continent, most of whom study online.
The cost of a getting a degree with UNICAF is approximately 20% of the cost of studying for the same degrees in developed markets and has the added benefit of flexibility, thereby allowing students to continue to work while they are completing their degrees and further enhancing the affordability of a higher education. Over 8,000 students have enrolled with UNICAF to date, a number which is expected to expand to over 60,000 students by 2020.
The company’s business model allows UNICAF to offer its programs to Africa’s people irrespective of geographical location, tuition fees or lack of access to academic resources. Today, the company operates in some of the continent’s most hard-to-reach countries and -difficult environments.
As David Easton, an Investment Director at CDC, said when commenting on the deal, “UNICAF has the potential to transform higher education, offering international quality degrees at a price and flexibility not currently seen in Sub-Saharan Africa. Our support will help transform the lives of gifted and often underprivileged students and will make higher education – previously out of reach for the vast majority – a viable option for many.”