Pearson and Village Capital fund second education entrepreneurs incubation program in South Africa

London, UK – 9 July 2014 – Today Pearson (, the world’s leading learning company, in conjunction with the investment firm Village Capital (, announces its second “Edupreneurs” programme. The 2014 programme will support and invest in education entrepreneurs across Africa that are serving some of the world’s less privileged students and solving the world’s most pressing educational challenges. Two winners will be selected through peer review by fellow education entrepreneurs, and will be offered up to USD $75,000 in seed funding.

The Pearson Affordable Learning Fund, established by Pearson to invest in low-cost private schools and other affordable educational solutions, will once again work with Village Capital to offer African entrepreneurs the chance to receive seed investment. Building on a successful first run in India, Edupreneurs 2014 will welcome up to 15 start-ups and small businesses to participate in workshops this autumn in South Africa. Here they will complete tailored modules in business and education topics, and receive mentoring advice from other entrepreneurs, investors and professionals. These entrepreneurs will then assess one another against twenty-four criteria, co-developed by the sponsoring partners, with the top two ranking companies eligible to receive up to USD $75,000 each—drawn from USD $100,000 and USD $50,000 of capital committed by Pearson and Village Capital, respectively.

"We will bring experience and mentorship from our existing seven portfolio companies to help young, innovative businesses from across the continent in tackling the affordable learning market segment.  We hope to bring the best minds from leading entrepreneurial and education organizations, as well as Pearson internally, to work with our cohort.  We're excited to scout across southern Africa for this unique incubation model and to continue bolstering the global ecosystem supporting education entrepreneurs,” says Ember Melcher, Program Manager for Edupreneurs at the Pearson Affordable Learning Fund.  

Although the programme will be operating in South Africa, applications are open to ‘edupreneurs’ operating across Africa who serve students in low-income communities and intend to scale their businesses to make a positive impact on the future of learning. Seeking market-based solutions to major problems facing education for the less privileged, Edupreneurs is intended for early stage start-ups operating for-profit models in African nations, with or without technological components.

"Nurturing South Africa's emerging entrepreneurs is key for Pearson, as it enables us to develop the small business sector and grow the education ecosystem that we operate in", says Riaan Jonck, CEO of Pearson South Africa. Jonck says its through programmes like Edupreneurs and their potential for success in the future that have led to small business sectors being key economic drivers in the fight against unemployment and poverty. "Enterprise Development is a key component of our transformation strategy, and we are looking forward to seeing innovative ‘edupreneurs’ emerge from this programme", he adds.

Find out more about the Edupreneurs programme and apply to join the incubator.

The 2014 applications will close at the end of August and selected edupreneurs announced by the end of September. The workshops will begin in October and run through early January.

Identifying the best small businesses for investment is a difficult and cost-intensive process for investors. Village Capital, based in the U.S., specializes in using the power of peer support and mentoring to build investment-ready companies and to allocate capital through peer selection. Inspired by microfinance ‘village banking’, participants coach each other over the course of a programme in order to prepare companies for investment.  Village Capital has operated 27 programmes globally serving more than 400 entrepreneurs. 

“We’re looking to build great companies that improve the quality of education for millions of low-income children across the world, and believe that entrepreneurs can see opportunities that larger players have overlooked. From the quality of entrepreneurs we can recruit, to the caliber of the technical assistance we are able to deliver to programme graduates, to the value-add assistance in helping companies grow, there’s no one we would rather be working with than PALF,” says Ross Baird, executive director of Village Capital.

The second Edupreneurs programme is just one element of Pearson’s open innovation strategy and efforts to work with the global start-up community to solve some of the biggest challenges in global education. The Pearson Catalyst for Education programme announced its second intake of start-ups in June, with companies paired with Pearson sponsors to work on pilot projects that tackle specific education related issues.



Emilie Colker
+44 207 010 2329

Rob Lalka

About Pearson

Pearson is the world's leading learning company, with 40,000 employees in more than 80 countries working to help people of all ages to make measurable progress in their lives through learning. For more information, visit

About Pearson Affordable Learning Fund

The Pearson Affordable Learning Fund makes minority equity investments in for-profit companies to meet a burgeoning demand for affordable education services in Africa, Asia and Latin America. The fund was launched in July 2012 with $15 million of initial Pearson capital. The purpose of the fund is to improve access to quality education for the poorest families in the world. We invest in private companies committed to innovative approaches and improving learning outcomes.  For more information, visit

About Village Capital

Village Capital uses the power of peer support to enable entrepreneurs to solve the world's largest problems. Over the past five years, Village Capital partner programs across the world--in the US, UK, Kenya, China, India, and Brazil--have recruited over 400 entrepreneurs solving pressing problems in education, health, energy, agriculture, financial inclusion, and more.

In Village Capital's programs teams help each other with product design, customer development, and financial sustainability, aided by best-in-class mentors along the way. At the end of each program, top teams receive seed investment through a democratized model that changes the way innovation happens - entrepreneurs themselves decide who gets funded. Village Capital enterprises, to date, has helped over 400 entrepreneurs who have created 6,000 jobs, served 6 million customers, and leveraged $80 million in investment capital. See more at