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Role of private capital in promoting affordable education by V.L. Ramakrishnan and Pankaj Raina

Posted on 22 March, 2020

Zephyr Peacock recognizes the importance of capital for innovative businesses serving low-income populations. One of Zephyr Peacock’s investment themes is affordable education and the fund has invested in Shiksha Finance, a provider of loans to affordable private schools and to students from low-income families for school education.

V.L Ramakrishnan, co-founder of Shiksha Finance and Pankaj Raina, Managing Director, Zephyr Peacock India write about the role of private capital in catalyzing affordable education.

Click here to read the full article on ‘Business World

Below is an excerpt from the post which first appeared on Business World on 22 March 2020:

India is a young country with a median age of 27 with a quarter of the country’s population of school-going age. Over the next ten years, more than 300 million children are expected to enter the school system. A majority of students in India are enrolled in government schools.

Some of the indicators of good quality education include healthy student to teacher ratio, availability of qualified teachers, adequate number of desks, access to playgrounds and good academic pass rates. Unfortunately, a large percentage of government schools in India do not fare well on these parameters.

Government spending on education, at 3.8 per cent of GDP, is significantly lower than in other large economies. Many government schools lack basic infrastructure such as desks, blackboards, libraries and playgrounds. A recent study across 13 states in India revealed that more than a third of the schools lack functioning toilets. Lack of serviceable toilets contribute to greater absenteeism and high drop-out rate of students, particularly girls. The K-12 segment in India witnesses close to 45 per cent drop out rate. Government schools also suffer from teacher absenteeism and poor quality of instruction. With the Centre and the State governments continuing to be constrained in budgets for improvements in education infrastructure, it is unlikely that the quality of government schools will improve in the near-term.

Over the last decade, affordable private schools (APS) have emerged as a superior alternative to government schools. APS charge monthly tuition fees in the range of Rs 550 to Rs 3,500. More than 110 million children are enrolled in private schools (2015-16, U-DISE). This number is expected to increase multi-fold over the next few years. India has approximately 700,000 APS and the number is expected to continue to grow. Unfortunately, these schools face their own set of challenges.

Click here to read the full article on ‘Business World

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Zephyr Management is a global emerging markets investment manager, specializing in the creation and management of highly focused private equity funds

Since its inception in 1994, Zephyr has sponsored and/or managed 26 investment funds in both public and private securities markets representing approximately $1.2 billion in combined commitments and assets under management

Emerging Markets Focus

The firm has initiated several private equity funds investing in several African countries, South Korea, Mexico, India, and Sri Lanka since its founding. Zephyr's funds serve medium size enterprises that are often ignored by larger private equity players. Zephyr funds provide growth capital to established companies with proven business models and sustainable competitive advantages.

Investment activities are currently focused on India, Sri Lanka and Africa.

Zephyr Peacock India

Zephyr Peacock India provides equity financing for fast growing, small to medium sized companies led by strong entrepreneurs and management teams.

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Emerald Sri Lanka Fund

Emerald Fund provides equity financing for fast growing, small to medium sized (SME) Sri Lankan companies led by strong entrepreneurs & management teams.

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Zephyr Acorn provides equity

Zephyr Acorn provides equity financing and business support to innovative early-stage companies in East Africa.

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Active Portfolio Support

The firm's special expertise lies in bringing global best practices to medium-sized growing companies by assisting them in conceptualizing sustainable business strategy, management development, compensation, ESG, expansion outside of their home country, capital structure and positioning for stock exchange listing or trade sale.