Kimmelman launched the academy chain in Kenya five years ago with co-founder Shannon May.
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The primary education market has high potential for growth and business success, Kimmelman said. Bridge International operates 395 academies and plans to expand globally to reach 10 million children within the next decade. Kimmelman and May are seeking to expand to Uganda, Nigeria and India.
"We charge about $6 per child per month and we run the schools profitably on that," Kimmelman said.
In order to operate the business in emerging economies, Kimmelman said Bridge "had to create a vertically integrated system" that does not have to depend on existing infrastructure.
The standalone independent operation system ensures that "every penny—there's only 600 of them that come from our parents—goes to actually delivering that education."
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"Everyday, we deliver eight hours of instruction to all of our schools. We had less than 1 percent teacher absenteeism. And for every year that a child attends Bridge, they accomplish two years' worth of academic achievement. That's why parents come to our schools and why they pay these affordable school fees," he said.
The teachers for the academies come from the local communities where the schools are located.
"They walk to work. We train them. There's an intense amount of talent in each of these communities, just no one is providing the infrastructure to support and enable the talent that's there," he said.
To prevent teacher absenteeism, Bridge provides monitoring-based rewards. "We monitor when they come to class, what time they start their lessons, how their pupils are performing, and all that connects to an award and disciplinary system that allows us to enable and motivate our teachers to succeed."
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