Africa | January 8, 2019

African Leadership University secures $30 million to train Africa’s future leaders

Jessica Pothering
ImpactAlpha Editor

Jessica Pothering

ImpactAlpha, January 7 – Mauritius-based African Leadership University, or ALU, is a for-profit university with an ambitious goal of teaching three million African students by 2035. A $30 million Series B funding round led by Danish billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen will support the institution’s goal by funding expansion of its leadership and technical skills training centers.

ALU started in 2004 as the African Leadership Academy, an elite high school program in South Africa. Now with a “U” in its name, it’s since expanded to undergraduate, graduate and workforce training, to bolster advanced education on the continent, which lacks both quantity and quality universities.

ALU offers its courses on a future income-based financing model: students repay the institution based on a percentage of their income for a fixed period of time after graduating. “Unlike a traditional loan, if they don’t get employed there’s nothing to pay,” ALU co-founder Fred Swaniker told Quartz Africa.

Other specialized education institutions, like U.S.-based Lambda School, have adopted this approach, amid ballooning costs of advanced education.

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ALU’s growth focus, which the Series B financing will fund, is “lifelong learning” programs that offer six month courses on specific skills, like data science, and leadership training. It launched its first program in Nairobi last year and plans centers in at least four other African cities this year.

With the new funding, ALU has raised a total of more than $80 million. It counts Omidyar Network among its prior investors.