African Leadership Academy raised $28M Series B from Omidyar Network


African Leadership Academy (ALA), a South African education institution, raised a further $28.19 million Series B last year. The amount came from long-time funder - Omidyar Network. ALA raised the amount mid last year, according to their SEC filings done in July 2018.

The filing is under African Leadership (Mauritius) Ltd, the holding company. Fred Swaniker, ALA CEO and Co-founder, is the signatory, together with Costa Arjuna, a director.

ALA has raised funding through three disclosed funding rounds, all from Omidyar Network.

The first was a $1.5 million grant which the Omidyar Network announced in May 2011. A $23.51 million Series A followed in April 2016 according to the SEC filing. In total, the academic institution has raised at least $53.2 million in disclosed funding.

The academy was founded in 2008 by Acha Leke, Chris Bradford, Fred Swaniker and Peter Mombaur.

ALA's goal is to "transform Africa by developing a powerful network of over 6,000leaders". To-date, they boast 1180 young leaders in their network. These come from at least 46 countries and have started a total of 177 ventures.

Education is an important sector. But, it has not received the much-needed attention across Africa. Despite the World Bank saying that the continent has made "considerable progress in boosting primary and lower secondary school enrollment".

The same bank adds that at least "some 50 million children remain out of school. Most of those who attend school are not acquiring the basic skills necessary for success later in life."

In the end, the continent has a problem of a low-quality labour force that can't compete in the labour market.

But, there's a couple of initiatives one can point at. In 2017, Jamie Martin founded Injini, an only education technology-focused accelerator/incubator. So far, they have accelerated 15 startups and invested over $500,000 into them.

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Bridge International Academies, founded in 2007, has also raised over $10 million in funding. Headquarters in Nairobi, they have the backing of Chan Zuckerberg, CDC Group and DOB Equity.

In November last year, UNICAF, which calls itself "the largest online higher education platform in Africa", announced a $28 million Series B financing. The funding was to help them "meet the growing demand for high-quality university education across the continent".

Goldman Sachs led the round with participation from existing investors. These include; CDC Group, leading higher education fund University Ventures, and EDEX.

Yet, despite all this, funding into educational technology and initiatives is still lacking. Especially when compared to other sectors like financial technology and e-commerce.

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