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Case Code: LDEN124
Case Length: 20 Pages 
Period: 2015-2017    
Pub Date: 2017
Teaching Note: Available
Price: Rs.500
Organization : Bridge International Academy
Industry : Primary Education
Countries : United States, Kenya, Liberia, Uganda
Themes: Social Entrepreneur
Case Studies  
Business Strategy
Marketing
Finance
Human Resource Management
IT and Systems
Operations
Economics
Leadership & Entrepreneurship

Bridge International Academies

 
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EXCERPTS

KENYAN EDUCATION SYSTEM

 

Kenya is a low middle income country in eastern Africa with a gross domestic product of US$63.4 billion (in 2015), mainly contributed by agriculture, forestry, and fishing. , The 2009 Kenya Household Population Census revealed that 4.6 million children aged 6-17 years were out of school. In 2013, a survey conducted with the support and supervision of the World Bank revealed that on an average 42.2% of Kenyan teachers were absent from class... ...

 
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IDEATION AND CONCEPTUALIZATION

Bridge International founders, May and Jay, were Harvard graduates. After graduating, May went on to pursue a Ph.D. in anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley, while Jay co-founded Edusoft, a web-based student assessment platform for kindergarten to twelfth (K-12) students.....
 

THE BRIDGE INTERNATIONAL ACADEMIES

The first Bridge Academy was started in the Mukuru Kwa Njenga slum in Nairobi, Kenya, in January 2009 with 60 students. The Academy offered Kindergarten and Classes 1-3. In 2011, Nursery and Class 4 were offered and in 2012, it added baby class and class 5. In 2012, Bridge claimed to have become the fastest growing company in Kenya....
 

BRIDGE “ACADEMY-IN-A-BOX” MODEL

With their mission of “Knowledge for all”, the Bridge founders set up a technology-enabled, data-driven business model which could easily be replicated and expanded on a large scale and could deliver a standardized learning experience to the poorest students around the world at the lowest price point...

FINANCING BRIDGE MODEL

In the initial stages, Bridge found it difficult to raise funds with its idea of starting a low cost (or low fee) private school for the poorest people in emerging markets. In an interview, May said, “You have to be willing to sell yourself and your idea to everyone you know. You can’t be bashful, and you can’t give up when almost everyone says no. One of our co-founders [Jay] had a previous start-up that was a success, so fewer people said no – since at least one of us had a track record of not losing everyone’s money. But still it took a long time. Starting what would be the largest private education system in the world, for the poor, in emerging markets, is not the easiest thing to sell to an investor. Or at least it wasn’t when we started in 2008.” ..
 

QUALITY EDUCATION BRINGING ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL CHANGE

Bridge’s mission of providing quality education to children at the bottom of the pyramid had great potential to transform lives. According to Jin-Yong Cai, the then IFC Executive Vice President and CEO, “High-quality, affordable education has the potential to expand access to education for the poor in developing countries, and transform the lives of children living in poverty.” ..
 

CRITICISMS OF BRIDGE MODEL

Some experts criticized Bridge’s mechanical and robot style teaching approach and called it the McDonaldization of Education, with no scope for creativity and passion. Kate Redman, a Communications and Advocacy Specialist for UNESCO’s EFA initiative. ..
 

DECISION TIME

May and the other founders had a very ambitious plan for Bridge and wanted to export Bridge’s unique business model to different parts of the world, especially countries with a poor education system. May said, “Our plans are quite simple really — we want to provide as many children as possible with access to a high-quality education as soon as possible. We have a goal of reaching 10 million pupils in over a dozen countries by 2025, both through attending our academies and working with partners to use our model beyond our academies.” Bridge also wanted to list on the New York stock exchange in 2017...
 

TAKEAWAYS FOR FUTURE

UA was careful and aware of the importance of being transparent. The crisis made UA determined to make its homework on every new product release even more thorough. UA’s main focus during the crisis was on the USA teams, rather than on the suits. In Plank’s words in his interview to CNBC, “This wasn’t a PR play as much as a cultural play”. Pelkey supplemented Plank’s opinion when she said, “We wanted to stand up and show our support and tell the world that we believe and are committed to U.S. Speedskating.” UA was smart not to go under a rock and hide. Its refusal to give up on Team USA and its commitment to help it fuel a US comeback during the 2018 Winter Olympics shifted the focus away from the suit impact. ..
 

EXHIBITS

Exhibit I: Various Awards and Recognition Received by Bridge International Academies
Exhibit II: Education Service Delivery Indicators in Kenya
Exhibit III: Bridge International Academies in Pictures
Exhibit IV: Timeline of Bridge International Academies
Exhibit V: Funding Details of Bridge International Academies
Exhibit VI: Bridge International Academies 2015 KCPE Results
Exhibit VII: Challenges Faced by Bridge