British International Investment

GEMS Africa

AfricaConsumer - Education

GEMS provides pre-school, primary, and secondary education, through a network of over 70 schools in 13 countries.

It has grown from a base of just a few hundred students to a network of hundreds of thousands of students globally across the income spectrum. Through its charitable arm, the Varkey Foundation, it runs a wide range of educational initiatives including the Global Teacher Prize.

GEMS Africa is GEMS’s subsidiary established for the development of educational services across sub-Saharan Africa – comprising the development of school campuses, teacher training and educational advice to public and private sector clients.

This investment was made when British International Investment was named CDC Group.

We have now exited this investment. This is what we achieved.

Achieved impact

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Expected impact

In 2015, we committed to invest up to $45 million alongside GEMS Global for the development of GEMS Africa across the continent. We invested to support the roll-out of school provision across Africa, including into the low-cost and affordable schools space, and to support teacher training and school improvement services.

In developing countries, some 260 million school-age children are not in school and many of those who are in school are not learning. For instance, less than 10 per cent of students in late primary school in low-income countries achieved a minimum proficiency level in a reading assessment.

With scarce government resources, private school operators such as GEMS have stepped in to plug the gap and provide innovative forms of education.

GEMS also invests heavily in teacher training to improve learning outcomes – both for its own teachers and for teachers in other public and private schools.

Since our investment, the company has launched an innovative new affordable school operation and as of February 2018 it is serving thousands of students across dozens of schools.

Through GEMS Africa, we will contribute to the education of a broad segment of society, including Africa’s future leaders and middle managers, lower income households and the wider workforce.

Reporting and Complaints Mechanism

The Reporting and Complaints Mechanism allows anyone outside BII to report alleged breaches of the business integrity or environmental and social provisions of BII’s Policy on Responsible Investing. This includes breaches made by BII, a BII investee, or a portfolio company of a fund in which BII has invested. The Reporting and Complaints Mechanism Rules are available here. Reports and complaints can be submitted by email to [email protected] or by mail. See more details on our Reporting and Complaints Mechanism here.

For any other general enquiries contact us at [email protected]

  • Key facts

    Last updated

    When the last quarterly update of the website database occurred.

    March 2024
    Project number

    An identifier number shared by investments in the same project.


    The current status of the investment (green flag for active and red flag for exited).


    The geographical region where the country is located. We currently invest in Africa, South Asia, South East Asia and the Caribbean. In 2023, BII’s investment mandate was extended allowing it to invest in regional funds linked to Ukraine, with the majority of activity expected to begin post-war. Investments outside these regions were made prior to 2012 under previous investment mandates.


    We prioritise those sectors that facilitate development and need our capital the most. Our priority sectors contribute towards many of the Sustainable Development Goals. They range from investing in the power infrastructure that will provide people with better access to electricity, to investing in financial institutions that direct capital to the individuals and businesses that need it the most.

    Consumer - Education

    We provide capital in the following ways: directly – through direct equity, direct debt, guarantees and other non-intermediated financial instruments; and indirectly – principally through investment funds.

    For direct investments and fund investments, this is the date BII committed capital to the investments. This is typically the date on which legal agreements are signed by all parties.

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    Investment type :
    Start date :
    September 2015
    End date :
    August 2021
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