How CIRA evolved into a fully vertically-integrated, multifaceted, education platform and became CIRA Education: Since its founding in 1993, Egypt’s largest listed private sector education company, CIRA Education (formerly just CIRA), weathered many storms and challenges to the sector. Just two years ago, covid had shut down classrooms, distance learning was a thing, and foreign ownership limits had been instituted for the private sector. Most recently, the sector was slammed by the high inflation, while legacy problems remain, including a high population to classroom ratio and a fragmented regulatory environment. CIRA Education survived these changes by not just adapting, but leading on some of the sector’s milestones.
This year was no different. CIRA Education is helping proliferate liberal arts education in Upper Egypt with the launch of Badr University. It is also introducing the concept of technical universities to Egypt by breaking ground soon on Cairo Saxony university. The company is also making its foray into pre-K outside of Cairo with the launch of a pre-K school in Fayum. There’s also CIRA Talent that looks to build viable career paths for artists, dancers, musicians and athletes across the nation. And running the infrastructure for the whole operation is CIRA Services.
Then, there’s the company’s three-year, EGP 2 bn future flow bond sale — Egypt’s first — which not only made the company an innovator in finance, but gave added credibility to the argument that education is a defensive sector.
Here to discuss all that transformation with the Enterprise Podcast is CIRA Education’s CEO Mohamed El Kalla. His love for social entrepreneurship has its roots in his student days, where his advanced studies in refugee law saw him living with nuns, and his subsequent work with the UN saw him lead programs in Darfur. During his time there, the UN had begun to see the importance of the private sector in enacting tangible change on the ground and he himself had worked on developing CSR and sustainability practices and bottom of the pyramid social engagement. He took on those lessons when he returned to the family business back in 2009, where item #1 on his agenda was instituting transparent governance. He has helmed CIRA Education’s evolution ever since.
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