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 (the “Company”), Africa’s largest chain of low-cost schools. According to IFC, at the time of its investment, the Company operated 211 schools serving over 57,000 students in Kenya and aims 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 the Company in Kenya (the BIA-01 case). The BIA-01 complaint was transferred to CAO’s compliance function for appraisal and CAO initiated an investigation in October 2019. In the course of the BIA-01 compliance investigation CAO became aware of several allegations of child sexual abuse at the Company’s schools. In September 2020, the CAO Vice President requested that CAO consider these issues in a compliance appraisal.
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 is an appropriate response to the issues raised in the Vice President’s request. In making this decision, CAO has taken into account 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 report in December 2020 and initiated the investigation in January 2021. Further 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. The investigation is ongoing and anticipated for completion in the fall of 2023.
An overview of CAO’s cases related to Bridge International Academies is available in this communiqué.
Status as of March 23, 2023