Primary and secondary education makes up a major proportion of the overall demand for education in Africa, because parents are desperate to give their children a good foundation in the early years. It is very important to catch them young and get children interested in education while their learning ability is high in the formative years of life.
The poor quality education offered by the existing government-owned primary and secondary schools has created a huge opportunity for privately-run schools to flourish. Although they typically cost more than public schools, most private schools offer better quality education and higher standards. Even in countries where basic education is free (sponsored by the government), more parents are skeptical of the quality of education in public schools and enroll their children in private schools, despite the higher costs.
The possibilities in the primary and secondary education business are quite appealing as this is still a virgin market in many African countries. There are the expensive private schools targeted at children from upper class homes.
Many of these schools offer curricula that are adapted to the high education standards in the USA and Europe. There are also private schools targeted at middle-income children. These schools are moderately priced and are expected to grow in number as more Africans enter the middle class.
In addition to formal primary and secondary school education, there is a huge and growing demand for private tutors to supplement the education children get in school. More parents are paying extra fees to private tutors who provide additional training after normal school hours.
These extra lessons may take place at the children‘s homes or at a dedicated location where children in the area come to receive classes after school. On average, primary and secondary school students who receive extra classes (private tutorship) perform better at school and general examinations than students who only attend school.
If you want to dig deep into this, open your own primary school – or better, even: a chain of schools. It is surely not a simple undertaking and one that will require a great deal of passion and vision at your end. But it can be done and the market is there to build a very successful business.
If you‘d rather consider a less complex venture, you could offer after-school care and clubs with homework supervision, or manage a network of tutors who could work both in schools and homes.
International schools that provide education based on a foreign curriculum (American, British, Chinese, etc.). This would be a great attraction for expatriate and high-income families who are likely to send their children overseas.
Special schools for children with learning difficulties (such as dyslexia and autism).
Top Countries & Policy Guidance
Again, this is a business that will work throughout Africa, especially if you are interested in social entrepreneurship. However, if you want to increase profit you should aim for the upper classes, which are fast growing in countries like Nigeria, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Angola.
Action & Tips
To find out more about your market and competition you need to visit existing schools and primary education facilities in the country you want to operate in, and directly engage with mothers to receive their feedback.
Contact the Ministry of Social Welfare / Labor & Welfare and get more information about your industry and competition.
Omega Schools (Ghana) and Bridge International Schools (Kenya)
Two amazing success stories are presented to Africa through the Omega Schools in Ghana, and the Bridge International Schools in Kenya. Both companies are hugely successful social enterprises that work on a massive scale and have received much media attention and various awards for outstanding social impact. You really need to visit the websites of both companies and you will be amazed at what grand visions and passion are able to accomplish.
Take Bridge International Schools: Shortly after getting married in 2007, May and her husband, Jay Kimmelman, who is also her business partner (both US citizens), spent their honeymoon traveling through half a dozen African countries where they interviewed teachers, principals, and parents about their educational needs to gather information for a business plan. In 2008 they opened in Kenya.
Today their school franchise is educating 100,000 children, allowing quality education at a monthly fee of just $5 by using a unique administrative and teaching concept that dramatically cuts down expenses. The school franchise continues to grow, now also outside Kenya.