GEMS Africa

Africa Education

Founded by Sunny Varkey in 1968, GEMS is the world’s leading schools company. It provides pre-school, primary, and secondary education, through a network of over 70 schools in 13 countries.

It has grown from a base of just a few hundred students to a network of hundreds of thousands of students globally across the income spectrum. Through its charitable arm, the Varkey Foundation, it runs a wide range of educational initiatives including the Global Teacher Prize.

GEMS Africa is GEMS’s subsidiary established for the development of educational services across sub-Saharan Africa – comprising the development of school campuses, teacher training and educational advice to public and private sector clients.

Our investment

In 2015, CDC committed to invest up to $45 million alongside GEMS Global for the development of GEMS Africa across the continent.

Our investment will support the roll-out of school provision across Africa, including into the low-cost and affordable schools space. It will also support teacher training and school improvement services.

Expected impact

In developing countries, some 260 million school-age children are not in school and many of those who are in school are not learning. For instance, less than 10 per cent of students in late primary school in low-income countries achieved a minimum proficiency level in a reading assessment.

With scarce government resources, private school operators such as GEMS have stepped in to plug the gap and provide innovative forms of education.

GEMS also invests heavily in teacher training to improve learning outcomes – both for its own teachers and for teachers in other public and private schools.

Since our investment, the company has launched an innovative new affordable school operation and as of February 2018 it is serving thousands of students across dozens of schools.

Through GEMS Africa, we will contribute to the education of a broad segment of society, including Africa’s future leaders and middle managers, lower income households and the wider workforce.

Environmental and social aspects

Through our Resource Efficiency Facility, we have identified a suite of energy and water efficiency and renewable energy opportunities.

Key facts


Since 2012, we’ve only invested in Africa and South Asia. Investments outside these regions are from our pre-2012 portfolio.


We have seven priority sectors. However, we continue to invest outside these sectors, largely in the most challenging regions, as new investment supporting any sector helps to underpin the private sector, and create jobs and livelihoods for people.

Investment type

We provide capital in three broad ways: direct equity, debt, and intermediated equity (principally through investment funds).

Direct Equity
Start date

For direct investments, this is the date CDC committed capital to the business or project.

For funds, this is the date that CDC committed capital to the fund.

For underlying fund investments, this is the date that the fund invested capital into the business.e

September 2015

For direct investments, this is the total amount that CDC has committed to the business or project (it may be a combination of equity and debt).

For funds, this is the total amount that CDC has committed to the fund.


This is the investee company’s place of incorporation; or a fund’s jurisdiction.


CDC is becoming British International Investment