Education Markets Impact Initiative


transforming financial markets to expand access and improve education outcomes in Sub-Saharan Africa

We equip financial institutions to finance affordable private schools and the families they serve in a manner that drives quality improvements in education.

Who EMii Benefits



All students at financed schools will receive a better education, and 1.75 million more children will be able to attend school.

Women and Girls

More than 40% of private school owners are women, as are a majority of teachers. 50% of private school students are girls.

a woman
young man


Each additional year of education increases sub-Saharan children's future earnings by 12.4%. For girls, the return is even higher at 14.5%. Schools prepare youth for employment, and they often employ youth themselves.

Education Entrepreneurs

School proprietors get loans to expand and improve their schools. They also get financial management training, support, and interventions to improve learning outcomes.

a teacher
exterior of a bank building

Financial Institutions

Financial institutions expand their SME business lines with a stable and growing customer segment with $4.5 billion market potential for credit in just 8 cities. They also gain access to new customers such as parents, teachers, and vendors.

% of Primary School Children in Private School: 

Kampala, Uganda
: 86%
Nairobi, Kenya: 72%
Lagos, Nigeria: 70%
Abuja, Nigeria: 45%
Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire: 43%
Accra, Ghana: 41%
Lusaka, Zambia: 39%
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania: 6%

Why Schools?

Private schools are critical to education in sub-Saharan Africa, where government schools can’t keep up with the burgeoning youth population, especially in low-income urban areas.

These schools educate up to 86% of primary school children in major cities, according to our research.

Low-fee schools are stable, mature small businesses in a growing sector. More than half of them have been in business for five years or longer, and at least 70% are profitable. But they need finance to expand and improve learning outcomes: 61% of proprietors say they want to borrow to upgrade their schools.

*according to CapPlus original field research, 2016-2018

IDP Foundation, Inc.
UBS Optimus Foundation

How Does EMii Work?

Through Partnerships.

We start with local financial institutions and equip them to deliver tailored products and services to locally owned private schools.

Together, we design financial services and combine them with resources and conditions to improve education outcomes. Partnerships are established with local education experts to enhance quality.  This allows the financial institutions to function as aggregators of the diffuse school market, bringing services that benefit students in addition to loans for the schools.

Where needed, we also provide patient and affordable debt capital to seed financial institution's education lending. And we engage education ministries, local education quality providers, and other stakeholders to build a stronger education ecosystem.

MOUs signed with:

Côte d’Ivoire
Commercial bank >$1bn
Commercial bank >$1bn
Microfinance bank

Commercial bank $.25-1bn 

Commercial bank $1bn
Nonbank FI

Commercial bank $1bn
Microfinance bank

Nonbank FI
Microfinance bank

EMII: our theory of changefinancial institutions as aggregatorscredit, savings, and quality interventionsschools, teachers, students, and parentsresults: more jobs for women and youth, access to educationoutcomes: fewer people in poverty, increase in gender equality, better health, financial market transformation

EMii and the SDGs


No Poverty: Education results in higher incomes as adults; schools employ youth


Quality Education: School loans finance expansion and incent quality improvements


Gender Equality: Women often own schools and dominate the teaching corps  


Economic Growth: Transforms financial markets to serve the unbanked school segment, women proprietors, teacher and parents


Partnerships: Partnerships are key: between financial institutions, local education experts, edtech providers, regulators, and organizations committed to youth

Why CapPlus?

We are experts in facilitating finance for small businesses in emerging economies.

Since 2004, we’ve worked with local financial institutions to sustainably finance underserved SMEs, generating social change and increasing equity. We provide a range of strategic and operational capacity building services that focus on long-term growth and profitability while building effective SME business lines for impact.

With EMii, we’re leveraging that long history and expertise to connect schools with the resources that fit their unique needs. Our track record with financial institutions their small business clients allows us to successfully integrate resources available in the larger community, including training and intervention from education quality providers, technology providers, and regulatory bodies.

our impact statistics: 82 percent of clients request additional engagements

Meet the EMii Team

Supported by a high-impact lineup of experienced practitioners

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Lynn Pikholz - President and CEO. Founded and leads CapPlus; 25+ years’ experience. Current focus at intersection of access to finance and affordable education.

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Dr. Peter Colenso - Director, Education Outcomes; International education expert. Former Executive Director (Education) in Children’s Investment Fund Foundation, Head of Education in DFID.

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Nicholas Burnett - Director of CapPlus, Educate! and other organizations; Special Professor of International Education at Nottingham University. While Managing Director at Results for Development (R4D), founded its Global Education practice and Center for Education Innovations.

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Neeraj Sharma - Edufinance Expert. Former CEO of Indian School Finance Company (ISFC) during which ISFC opened 150 branches and grew assets under management twenty-fold to fund loans to more than 10,000 schools across India, most of them low-fee private schools.

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Ololade Adesola - Senior Banker and Edufinance Expert.  Appraises markets and financial institutions’ readiness for edufinance; develops edufinance strategy and products,  trains and guides financial institution staff through implementation.  Chartered management consultant and experienced banker.

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Funmi Sodipo - Senior Banker, Edufinance. Successful banker in retail, microfinance and SME banking. Applies experience in banking and MSME capacity building to develop edufinance solutions. Managed IFC/Ecobank relationship to implement the African Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise project that developed successful MSME finance business lines in banks in six countries.

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Steve Orlesky - Senior Banker, Edufinance. Seasoned micro- and SME banker, including as CEO of two banks. Develops and implements edufinance strategies and products, as well as underlying operations and policies.

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Peter Hinton - Senior Investment and Strategic Advisor, Strategy. Low-fee schools expert, private equity investment.

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Gerry Monteiro - Chief Investment Officer; CEO, Industrial Bank of Oman, an investment banking and project finance institution. Senior banker (ex DMD and COO HSBC India) with over 30 years of experience and strong strategic, business, credit and technology expertise.

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Rula Dababneh - COO. International development specialist. Over 20 years’ experience in finance, private sector development, and programmatic and financial management.

Program Updates

Blog Post:
Presenting the market potential for financing low-fee private schools as an impactful SME sector in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. This original CapPlus research was funded by UBS Optimus Foundation. Read about the outcomes and download here.


Check out a conversation between IDP Foundation, Inc. and Ghanaian MFI Sinapi Aba, who partnered to pioneer the IDP Rising Schools Program - a model for funders and financial institutions interested in launching school finance programs in other markets. Watch the video now.

Survey Results:

CapPlus researchers interviewed 998 school proprietors in five African cities and concluded that financial institutions can support schools in growing, improving their financial management and the children’s learning outcomes – all as a profit-generating line of business. Download Banking on Education to review the summarized results.

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