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Bringing high-quality education to the under-served middle-income segment in Egypt

Article - April 24, 2019

As Egypt’s middle class grows over the coming years, so too will the demand for high-quality private education at affordable prices, and that is something in which Cairo for Investment and Real Estate Development (CIRA) has specialized for over two decades.

 

MOHAMED EL-KALLA, MANAGING DIRECTOR OF CIRA

Established in 1993, CIRA is the largest integrated provider of educational services in the Egyptian private sector. On the back of its reputation for quality educational services coupled with growing market demand, the company has witnessed steadfast growth year on year. Today it has around 23,000 students enrolled in its 19 schools across Egypt, which offer multiple education tracks, including British, American, French, German and national curricula.

Leveraging on its reputed track record for managing in K-12 educational institutions, CIRA took the step into the higher education segment with the opening of Badr University in 2014. Reaching underpenetrated governorates such as Ismailia, Suez, and the Delta, BU’s student body has grown 67% year on year since it opened, and today has 7,700 students across its 9 faculties.

“We’re meeting a market of 20 million people. The Egyptian middle-class is larger than three or four Arab countries combined. We create excellence, in terms of what we do and we’ve always been shaking up the system. We’re the first entity to provide blended learning to the masses in Egypt – the first entity that looks at middle and lower-middle with specialized services,” says Mohamed El-Kalla, Managing director of CIRA.

“We moved from Cairo and we went to governorates, so we’re in Minya, we’re in Asyut, we’re in Hurghada, we’re in Suez, we’re opening in Delta… We’re seeing where Egypt is growing and we’re always there. We opened schools in new cities before people start moving in, that means that we are part of the story of why people would like to move to a new city, because the school is there.”

In order to fund further growth of CIRA and to achieve its future objectives, the state-owned company announced in August it would offer nearly 207.3 million shares, representing around 37.84% of the company, for sale in a private and a public offering. In September, its initial public offering was 18.9 times oversubscribed, while its private offering of around 192.5 million shares was 10.6 times oversubscribed – clear evidence of the huge investor interest in CIRA and the growing market to which it caters.

“Everybody was holding on their IPOs and we pushed full throttle, because at the end of the day we came to the market with a real story and a real business perspective,” explains Mr. El-Kalla. “The stock jumped 18% on the first day of trading and has been quite constant and stable since then. There is a huge interest coming out of London and coming out of U.S.”

CIRA’s growth has been supported through access to international funds from the International Finance Corporation amongst others, but Mr. El-Kalla says listing on the Cairo Stock Exchange opens up access to a much larger pool of investors and wider spectrum of funds from the West.

“Arousing the interest in western based funds opens up opportunities in terms of partnerships, access to other models around the world and stability of the company going forward,” explains. Mr. Kalla.

“We’re looking for longer term investors. In general the education-healthcare businesses are long-term investments and usually you see that more in the West. So, going to the stock market made the perfect sense.”

 

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