Why we care about investing in African students & why you should as well

 

In our recent blog posts we showed that our student investment model works. We also answered the most frequently asked questions. Except for one. Why? Why have the people on our team decided to do this? What do we ultimately hope to achieve with Brighter Investment?

What are the largest problems our global society faces today? Global warming is often mentioned first, shortly followed by inequality, pollution, food production for a growing population, cancer, water shortages, resource shortages etc. How much faster would we have a cure for all forms of cancer if we had double the number of medical scientists working on this? How many cheap production methods for sustainable energy would we have with double the number of engineers working on their ideas? Imagine double the number of agricultural scientists working on solutions that improve yield and reduce environmental impact from food production. All of this, is within our grasp.

 
 
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"I am currently working on a genetically modified cotton variety which produces an insecticide to bollworm..."

- Godslove Asare Boadu, Graduated Brighter Student

Extremely smart students all over the world have the potential to work on, and come up with solutions for all of these problems. All they need is a chance, a chance to learn what we know in their field and push the envelope of human knowledge a little bit further. Every year, 60 million of the smartest and most talented young adults graduate from high school without getting this chance. So instead of helping to solve these pressing problems, some of our smartest people end up wasting their talents as subsistence farmers, or street vendors. Imagine Stephen Hawking wouldn’t have been able to study physics. On the other hand, imagine if many more bright young students got the chance to follow in the footsteps of an Arthur Zang, Rachid Yazami or our own graduate Godslove.

The value created by these leaders of tomorrow will come in the form of benefits to society AND financial gain: Better cures for cancer would benefit us all AND create valuable new medical companies. Better methods of producing cheap clean energy would solve global warming AND result in whole new power producing industries. And although some political leaders would like us to believe that the global economy pie is of a limited size, that we have to fight for our share of it, these types of innovations actually grow the total pie and result in more pie for everybody.

 
 
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$23 trillion of ESG assets under management vs $360 billion in philanthropy

- McKinsey and JP Morgan data presented at Katapult Future Fest 2018

Higher education in the developing world is dramatically undercapitalized. As we convince more and more investors that backing the leaders of tomorrow is a smart investment, we are changing the higher education funding ecosystem. There are currently over $23 trillion of ESG/SRI assets under management--over 60 times the amount of capital committed to philanthropy.

And these socially conscious asset classes are continuing to gain ground. Over the last 8 years, these investments have outperformed the total market and the global supertankers of finance have started to take note. Dutch pension fund managers, California public pension funds, Australian and New Zealand superannuation funds, insurance and reinsurance, sovereign wealth funds like Norway’s $1 trillion fund have all started to shift toward sustainable investing. If we can prove to these supertankers of global finance that the brightest students are an asset class worth investing in, they are the ones that have the capacity to pay for the degrees of the aforementioned 60 million bright high school graduates per year.

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“The major resource needed to impact lives within Africa is quality education”

-Richard Adarkwah, Brighter Investment Program manager in Ghana

So what’s the plan? Is Brighter Investment going to manage these supertankers’ investments in all 60 million students per year? We’d love to see that happen, but as the funding model is proven, more competition will emerge. A competitive marketplace of financing options is great news for the students. The years of data on what factors determine that a student is a good investment will ensure that Brighter Investment’s underwriting is best in class and will allow us to outperform the competition in this market place.

Every student we support today provides us with one more proofpoint to convincing capital that these students are a worthwhile value creating opportunity. Every datapoint brings us one step closer to a world where every talented student can reach their full potential, irrespective of family wealth, gender or place of birth. And every one of our bright students that graduates brings us a little bit closer to solutions for humanity’s most pressing needs.

And that’s why we believe this is a problem worth solving.