SPARK Schools Raises Series C Capital as it Aims to Expand its Footprint in South Africa

SPARK Schools Raises Series C Capital as it Aims to Expand its Footprint in South Africa
SPARK Schools Raises Series C Capital as it Aims to Expand its Footprint in South Africa

Independent private school network SPARK Schools has concluded a successful Series C capital raise led by global long-term investment firm Creadev, alongside Finnish development financier Finnfund and existing SPARK Schools shareholder Imaginable Futures, as part of its plans to grow access to high quality, affordable K-12 education (primary and secondary) across Africa.

The transaction will see Creadev acquire shareholding in SPARK Schools and will be instrumental in consolidating SPARK School’s existing network of primary and secondary schools and expanding its footprint to serve over 35,000 scholars in the next 10 years, said SPARK Schools CEO Stacey Brewer.

“SPARK Schools’ vision is for South Africa to lead global education by ensuring that underserved communities get access to high quality education. Partnering with Creadev, Finnfund and Imaginable Futures will enable us to achieve this bold and ambitious vision, as they are strongly aligned to our mission and values, and understand what it takes to build and scale a great business,” said Brewer.

By 2030, it is estimated that more than 300 million young people will enter the job market across Sub-Saharan Africa. However, most K-12 institutions across the continent perform poorly, plagued by overcrowded classrooms, scarcity of qualified teachers and lack of equipment. Elite private schools aim to fill the void in terms of quality of education but they remain unaffordable to a large majority of the population.

Since 2012, SPARK Schools has developed a pioneering tech-enabled pedagogical model that aims to address these challenges by providing private school level education at a competitive price. The company has grown to become the third-largest network of private K-12 schools in South Africa, operating 18 institutions and serving over 10,500 families from diverse social and 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 Schools was able to adapt quickly thanks to a balanced mix of online, offline distance learning and face-to-face teaching, said Pierre Fauvet, Creadev Africa Director, and Sarah Ngamau, Creadev’s Kenya Director.

“Stacey and her team have developed a highly innovative and scalable model, relying on blended learning to reduce 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 embodiment of the values of SPARK – Service, Persistence, Achievement, Responsibility and Kindness,” said Fauvet and Ngamau.

“Together with like-minded co-investors, we are thrilled to support their mission to provide access to such an essential service to the many, and shape tomorrow’s world. SPARK Schools has the potential to become a champion pioneering affordable private education in Africa!”

Finnfund Senior Investment Manager Eero Pekkanen said the financier was constantly looking for investment opportunities where Finnfund could contribute with knowledge and contacts from the education sector.

“Our interest in education comes from the fact that Finland’s education system is considered among the best in the world. By offering quality education at a reasonable price, with an innovative way of teaching, we believe SPARK Schools can be a pioneer and reinvent the whole market and education system in South Africa. We are always looking for companies that have a proven track record and SPARK Schools has shown that they are able to scale up their business,” said Pekkanen.