Kenya: Bridge International Academies-04/Kenya
CAO Vice President Request
In 2013 and 2016, IFC invested a total of US$13.5 million of equity in Bridge International Academies (BIA), Africa’s largest chain of low-cost schools. According to IFC, at the time of its investment, Bridge operated 211 schools serving over 57,000 students in Kenya and aimed to provide quality education to children from families earning less than $2 per person per day. The investment was intended to support an increase in the number of schools in Kenya and expansion to 3 new countries. IFC completed a divestment of Bridge International Academies effective March 3, 2022.
In April 2018, CAO received a complaint from the East Africa Centre for Human Rights, a Kenyan NGO, on behalf of current and former parents and teachers regarding IFC’s investment in Bridge schools in Kenya (BIA-01). The BIA-01 complaint was transferred to CAO’s compliance function for appraisal and CAO initiated a compliance investigation in October 2019. During the BIA-01 investigation, CAO became aware of several allegations of child sexual abuse at Bridge schools in Kenya. In September 2020, CAO’s Vice President initiated a compliance appraisal to consider these issues.
CAO’s initial review of the project documentation raised questions as to whether IFC’s pre-investment review and subsequent supervision of the project properly considered the requirements of Performance Standards 1 and 4 as relevant to child safeguarding and protection risks.
Overall, CAO determined that an investigation was the appropriate response to the issues raised in the appraisal. In making this decision, CAO considered the seriousness of the risks and impacts raised as well as the above compliance questions regarding IFC’s review and supervision of the project.
CAO completed its appraisal in December 2020 and initiated a compliance investigation in January 2021. Details on scope of the investigation are set out in the Terms of Reference, released in October 2021. Both the appraisal report and Terms of Reference are available under Case Documents below.
CAO completed the investigation and submitted its report to the Board on October 3, 2023. In response, IFC Management has submitted a management report, including a Management Action Plan (MAP), to the Board for approval.
On January 25, 2024, the IFC Board held a meeting on the CAO investigation report, and IFC management response and MAP. A formal Board meeting to consider the MAP will be convened within one month. Bank Group management and IFC’s Board of Executive Directors released a statement after the meeting.
Following Board approval of the MAP, CAO will publish the investigation report and IFC’s management report, including the MAP, on this site.
An overview of CAO’s cases related to Bridge International Academies is available in this communiqué.
Status as of January 25, 2024