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CDC Group, University Ventures and Savannah invest combined $12m into UNICAF

Learning NewsUNICAF

CDC Group plc, University Ventures and Savannah today announce that they will invest a combined $12m into UNICAF. The investment will support the roll-out of UNICAF’s higher education learning centres across African cities, including finalising the establishment of a university campus in Malawi.

UNICAF CEO, Dr Nicos Nicolaou
UNICAF CEO, Dr Nicos Nicolaou 

Founded in 2012, UNICAF is a company dedicated to making international standard higher education accessible to African professionals. UNICAF both partners with western universities and offers its own locally accredited degrees to African young professionals who are looking to study largely online while continuing to work. UNICAF has grown to over 8,000 students today, and is on track to reach over 60,000 students by the end of 2020.

UNICAF has innovated to bring down the fee paid for these degrees to approximately 20% of the price paid in the West for the same degrees.  The average price for a Master’s degree of c.$4,000 still represents a significant investment for an African working professional.  However, this is a fraction of the price that would be paid at equivalent quality universities in Africa, and importantly with a flexibility that enables students to continue to work while they study, so making affordability less of an issue.

CDC is the UK’s development finance institution. It invests in businesses in Africa and South Asia to help create jobs and make a lasting difference to people living in the poorest parts of the world. Education is one of CDC’s seven priority sectors because of the jobs created, but also because of the impact on quality education on individual’s life chances, and the multiplier effect of having a higher skilled workforce.

David Easton, CDC’s Investment Manager said: “UNICAF has the potential to transform African higher education, offering international quality degrees at a price and flexibility not currently seen in Sub-Saharan Africa. CDC’s investment will help UNICAF create over 1,000 new jobs by building a network of learning centres and university campuses across African cities, including in the continent’s hardest to reach countries.” 

University Ventures (UV) is a leading investment firm focused exclusively on the global higher education sector. UV pursues a differentiated strategy of 'innovation from within'. By partnering with top-tier universities and colleges and then strategically directing private capital to develop innovative programmes of exceptional quality that address major economic and social needs, UV is setting new standards for student outcomes and advancing the development of the next generation of colleges and universities on a global scale.

Daniel Pianko, Founding Managing Director, University Ventures, said: “Nicos Nicolaou is an incredible entrepreneur committed to harnessing the power of world class degree programs at prices that working professionals on the African continent can afford.” 

Savannah Fund is an African-based early stage venture capital firm based in Nairobi, Kenya.