Actis – Growth & Emerging Market Investors

How Actis is Changing Africa Through Honoris United University

Actis, a private equity investment firm, has several investments in Africa, but the most notable is arguably Honoris United Universities. Although primary school enrollment has increased to about 80% in Africa, the percentage drops as children grow older and move to higher learning levels. 

This is primarily attributed to poverty. The high level of unemployment is another factor that makes parents question the value of the investment in education, especially if it is from primary school to University. Unfortunately, this perception has resulted in some parents choosing to educate the child most likely to succeed at the expense of the other children. 

Other times, it is not a question of resources. Africa doesn’t just grapple with the problem of underemployment, but underemployment as well. Questions have been raised on the courses offered in the various institutions of higher learning. Do they match the job market? This pushed Actis to bring together leading tertiary institutions in North and Southern Africa to create the best possible connection between education and employment possibilities. 

Actis was founded in 2004, and since then, it has attracted hundreds of the best investment minds internationally. Honoris United Universities was formed through their expertise to provide an avenue for future generations to help steer Africa in the right direction, where every educated person has an equal opportunity to succeed. Other than giving the opportunity, Actis is also providing scholarships to disadvantaged children. 

Institutions Under Honoris United University

Tunisia was the first country in Francophone Africa to benefit from investment from Actis. Université Centrale Group, a leading tertiary institution, received support from Actis in December 2014. 

Two years later, an institution in Morocco, Université Mindiapolis, well known for its general approach of employability courses, became the second beneficiary. As it expanded its Africa portfolio, Actis announced more investment in Morocco. This time Actis had its sights on EMSI, Ecole Marocaine des Sciences de l’Ingénieur, an exceptional engineering school. However, this investment was subject to increased regulation and accountability. 

Honoris United Universities expanded to include several higher institutions of learning in South Africa. These include the Management College of Southern Africa (MANCOSA) and REGENT Business School. These two institutions provide accredited, affordable, and accessible education. 

The institutions under Honoris United Universities are bound by an agreement to provide degrees in fields that provide students with a high possibility of employment. They include engineering, business, law, IT, health sciences, media, architecture, and arts. The learning resources are also diverse to encourage more students to enroll. Students can choose between on-campus learning, the use of learning centers, and distance learning. 

How Honoris United Universities are Transforming Africa

Most organizations and companies are looking for personnel that will add value to the company, especially in top tier levels of the organization. Globalization has raised the stakes higher for businesses in Africa, which seek locals for management levels because they understand the local market. 

Honoris United Universities don’t just pass knowledge to the students, but they also ensure their students gain the necessary skills to fulfill whatever role they get when they are employed successfully. 

Women have often been left behind when it comes to growth at their places of work because their various responsibilities have been used in the bias of employing more men in executive positions. Actis is looking to change this by encouraging a higher representation of females at all the Honoris United Universities institutions. 

Students in these universities also get practical exposure to the job market through links with the other Actis portfolio companies. This linkage helps students analyze their skills and see if they are up to par with what is expected of them when they finally graduate and seek employment. Rather than working blindly, the students can take advantage of the vast knowledge at their disposal to make them employable. 

This exposure also helps Actis to consider the possibility of new business ventures based on the unique expertise discoveries in the various institutions of higher learning. Since the students get internship opportunities with companies affiliated with Actis, they may be taken on as full-time employees when they graduate. 

The prospects for Actis include increasing the scholarship program to reach more children from low-income households whose future is curtailed by a lack of funds for education. Additionally, Honoris Universities are expanding primary school teachers’ training to narrow the gap of insufficiently trained teachers in sub-Saharan Africa. According to a 2016 UNESCO report, Africa needs at least 17 million trained teachers over 14 years. Actis is committed to making this happen for the people in Africa, but more importantly, for the children. 

Mario Garcia/

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