Ivory Coast is facing challenges in catering for a rapidly rising labour force, counting 14 million workers in 2015 and poised to rise to around 22 million by 2025. As more and more workers enter the emerging economy, the issue is not so much employment for everyone, as it is to guarantee a decent wage. Indeed, an average worker in Ivory Coast earns the equivalent of US$200 a month, lower than the average in sub-Saharan Africa.
It is here that vocational education has a crucial role to play in imparting usable skills to the youth, such that they are able to secure their future and deepen their contribution to the national economy. GroFin’s client, Ecole des Spécialités Multimedia d’Abidjan (ESMA), is one such vocational education provider that is using our finance and support to expand the reach of digital education in Ivory Coast, with the ultimate objective of upskilling youth across the West African Economic and Monetary Union.
Founded in 2006, ESMA is the first private school specialised in multimedia across Francophone West Africa and focuses on the provision of quality education to post-graduate students in the field of digital communications, multimedia, audiovisual and web development.
Licensed and regulated by the Ivoirian Ministry of Superior Education, ESMA has a total of 39 classrooms with 39 permanent teachers and 34 permanent and contractual administrative staff. The school started with 75 students in 2006 and presently has two campuses with a total student population of 900. With the acquisition of a new campus in 2016, the school has increased its capacity and can now accommodate 3,000 students.
The key entrepreneur behind ESMA is Mr Doumbia Vakaba, who is a computer engineer and has more than 25 years’ experience in the field of digital media, print, web services and business management. Apart from ESMA, Mr Doumbia also runs Cevenol International Primary School, triggered by his concern for the education of both youth and children. Located in Gonzagueville, Port Bouët, a neighborhood where most residents hail from the lower class, Cevenol provides affordable and subsidised basic and primary education to around 450 pupils currently.
In 2017, Mr Doumbia approached GroFin for finance and support to both refinance an existing short-term loan for the acquisition of ESMA’s new premises as well as adequately equip classrooms in the new campus to allow the school to cater for more students. Upgrading ESMA’s capacity will also enable the school to cover a second target segment of students in the regional market of the UEMOA (West African Economic and Monetary Union) zone which does not have such elite schools to offer vocational training in visual communications and multimedia.
Based on GroFin’s finance and support, ESMA will be in a position to increase its student intake for the 2018 academic year to 1,100, then 1,300 in 2019 and finally 1,500 for 2020 in the medium term alone. A suitable moratorium of upto 6 months has also been provided to give the client a leeway to build and operate the requisite infrastructure before repayment starts, to avoid stress on cash flow.
“GroFin understood our requirements for both a longer tenor loan as well as aligned repayments with our cash flows by providing a much-needed moratorium. Their finance and support will go a long way in helping us to reach our target long-term intake of 3,000 students who will benefit from superior education and contribute at full capacity to the economic growth of our country,” says Mr Doumbia.