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Reference no. 1-15-009
Subject category: Entrepreneurship
Published by:
The Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship at MIT (2015)
December 8, 2015
19 pages
Data source:
Field research


Disturbed by the poor quality of education in sub-Saharan Africa, Shannon May, Jay Kimmelman, and Phil Frei founded Bridge International Academies (Bridge) as a for-profit business based in Nairobi, Kenya. The first school opened in January 2009; more soon followed. Each had a manager and employed a teaching cadre. Delivering quality education at a very low price required a highly efficient and rapidly scalable system, the 'Academy-in-a-Box': a standardized, vertically integrated, data-driven, financially sustainable, technology-enabled system that could rapidly site, construct, staff, and operate uniformly reliable teaching facilities at low cost. Preplanned lessons, with scripts provided on tablets to teachers, allowed Bridge to expand its pool of teachers and make teacher training faster and less costly. Tablets were linked to the central data system, allowing headquarters to monitor class activities in real time, and were used to record attendance and track student performance. Bridge's mission succeeded in terms of both affordability and results. The cost of private school primary education came within reach of thousands of low-income families. Bridge pupils as a group outscored their peers on tests measuring reading levels and numeracy skills. The founders believed the social and economic benefits of educating millions of impoverished children would be profound. Many would launch businesses, hire people, create solutions for their communities’ problems, and provide enlightened leadership for society. This case is part of the Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship at Massachusetts Institute of Technology free case collection (visit www.thecasecentre.org/legatum for more information on the collection).


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