February 4, 2021 - By 2030, more than 300 million young people will enter the job market across Sub-Saharan Africa. A high-performing primary and secondary learning system unlocking the doors of university will be critical to educate and train the many. Yet most of K-12 institutions across the continent still perform poorly, plagued by overcrowded classrooms, scarcity of qualified teachers and lack of equipment. On the other side, elite private schools remain unaffordable to a large majority of the population.
Since 2012, SPARK School's CEO Stacey Brewer and her team have developed a pioneering tech-enabled pedagogical model to solve this issue. Through a combination of teacher-led instruction and online learning, rotational classroom set-up, and strong emphasis on educators’ professional development, SPARK Schools provides the best standards of education at a competitive price accessible to the many. The company has grown to become the 3rd largest network of private K-12 schools in South Africa, operating 18 institutions and serving over 10,500 families from diverse social & cultural backgrounds.
In 2020, COVID-19 severely disrupted global education, depriving 1.6 billion learners from access to school in more than 190 countries. SPARK was able to adapt quickly thanks to a balanced mix of online, offline distance learning and face-to-face teaching. Embarking in 2021, the team is fully geared towards accelerating on its mission to unlock access to high quality education in Africa.
To this end, SPARK Schools announced today the closing of its Series C to support the company’s next phase of growth. This funding will be instrumental in consolidating SPARK’s existing network and expanding primary and secondary schools across Africa to reach 35,000+ scholars in the next 10 years. The round was led by Creadev, together with the Finnish development finance institution Finnfund and existing SPARK shareholder Imaginable Futures.
Stacey Brewer, CEO & Co-Founder of SPARK Schools:
“SPARK Schools’ vision is for South Africa to lead global education by ensuring that under-served communities get access to high quality education. Partnering with Creadev, Finnfund and Imaginable Futures will enable us to achieve our bold and ambitious vision. They have a strong alignment to SPARK Schools’ vision, mission and values and understands what it takes to build and scale a great business. As the African proverb states, ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together’ – we look forward to walking this journey together with Creadev, Finnfund and Imaginable Futures, ensuring that SPARK Schools grows from strength to strength and provides better opportunities to the communities that we serve in South Africa and beyond.”
Eero Pekkanen, Finnfund:
“We are continuously looking for investment opportunities in the education sector: companies that have a proven track record, a scalable business model and potential to make a great impact. Building on Finland’s exceptional results in education, we want to actively contribute to unlocking high quality education to all, from underserved communities to middle-income families. We believe that SPARK is a pioneer in its field and can reinvent the K-12 education system in South Africa and beyond through its innovate tech-enabled model and focus on empowering students to perform at their best. In the time of COVID-19 outbreak, we are excited to support SPARK through the pandemic and start looking ahead at an ambitious and impactful expansion plan.”
Pierre Fauvet & Sarah Ngamau, Creadev Africa:
“Stacey and her team have developed a highly innovative and scalable model, relying on blended learning to optimize the cost to educate and solve the pressing issue of teacher scarcity in Sub-Saharan Africa. Through this unprecedented year, the whole team has demonstrated clear commitment to the values of SPARK – Service, Persistence, Achievement, Responsibility and Kindness!
Together with like-minded co-investors Finnfund and Imaginable Future, we are thrilled to support SPARK’s mission to provide access to such an essential service to the many, and shape tomorrow’s world. SPARK has the potential to become a champion pioneering affordable private education in Africa!”
Shikha Goyal, Imaginable Futures:
“Imaginable Futures is proud to continue its support to SPARK Schools for their next phase of growth that will benefit learners and families in South Africa. SPARK’s innovative, blended learning model demonstrates that children in South Africa can receive a quality education at costs that families at all income levels can afford.”
Clermount acted as sole financial advisor to SPARK Schools in this transaction.