Investec Asset Management buys into Africa's education sector

The investment firm buys a controlling stake in private college operator Richfield.

Investec Asset Management, a subsidiary of Investec, has acquired a controlling stake in private college operator Richfield Holdings, marking its first investment in Africa’s education sector. 

The company announced on Thursday that the Richfield acquisition was made through its private equity fund, African Private Equity, but didn’t disclose the size of its stake or the cost of the deal. 

The private sector education sector is growing fast as rising household incomes and poor-quality education provided by governments in the African continent is prompting parents to pay more for better schooling for their children. 

Founded 28 years ago, Richfield has more than 20,000 students enrolled across more than 40 campuses in South Africa, and a fast-growing distant learning offering to students from across Southern Africa. It offers courses through a number of specialist education brands, including Richfield Graduate Institute of Technology and the recently acquired AAA School of Advertising. Richfield offers a wide range of accredited Higher Education degrees, diplomas, and certificates as well as technical and vocational training courses.

According to Investec Asset Management, Richfield Graduate Institute of Technology is positioned as the “most affordable provider of quality tertiary education in the market.”

Investec Asset Management’s investment will help Richfield to expand its course offerings, open new sites for campuses, grow the blended model of distance learning and expansion into the rest of Africa.

“We view the access to affordable vocational and higher education as a critical driver of development for the continent,” said Nick Marsh, the investment principal at Investec Asset Management. 

Nick said Richfield’s founder and CEO Jay Ramnundlall and his team have built a business “with deep academic strength and a brand which is well respected by students, parents and employers.” “We believe the business is well positioned to capitalise on the growing demand for quality education that delivers the skills needed by employers,” he said. 

Said Jay about the deal with Investec: “the need for high-quality affordable tertiary education in South Africa and beyond represents a huge opportunity for Richfield to expand its footprint and course offerings. I believe our partnership with Investec Asset Management will enable us to further expand to provide many more students with the opportunity for a quality tertiary education.”