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USAID CATALYZE Education Finance Activity - Zambia


USAID CATALYZE EduFinance Zambia is committed to increasing access and quality of education for children in rural and urban Zambia. It leverages public private partnerships to improve the quality of primary schools in rural Zambia and provides loans and technical assistance to improve learning outcomes for low-fee non-state schools in urban Lusaka and Copperbelt. 

  • Project Duration: Dec 2020 – Sep 2025
  • Geographic Focus: Lusaka and Copperbelt province
  • Implementers: Palladium International, Opportunity International

The Challenge

In Zambia, only 55% of learners complete the last grade of primary school, and only 64% of those graduates transition to lower secondary school (UNESCO 2017). Education access is strained due to migration from rural areas to urban centers, and the public school system is not able to keep up with population growth and migration patterns, resulting in the average teacher to student ratio in public schools reaching 1:61. Further, the environment for education financing is constrained by a heavily indebted central bank. As such, there is an opportunity for microfinance institutions (MFIs) and small and medium enterprise (SME) lenders to support non-state schools through education finance.

Our Approach

Opportunity is partnering with local financial institutions to mobilize financing to the low-cost education sector and provide technical assistance to financial institution partners to launch and grow dedicated EduFinance loan portfolios. Ultimately, we aim to unlock private sector resources to increase demand for non-state schools in Zambia and improve learning outcomes for low-income and marginalized students. 

Through CATALYZE, we will: 

  1. mobilize finance from private investors to expand non-state schools, and 
  2. provide capacity building to school management and teachers to improve learning outcomes. 

In addition, we support operators of low-cost schools in urban Lusaka and Copperbelt to access affordable finance from local financial institutions and improve education qualty of school management and teachers. We also provide technical assistance to financial institutions to offer tailored school improvement loan products to low-cost schools and school fee loans to parents. 


Mobilize Finance and Increase Access to Education

  • Mobilize US $10.9 million from private investors and local financial institutions to finance low-cost primary schools. 
  • Finance 500+ low-cost non-state schools to reach 130,000+ learners in rural and urban Zambia. 
  • Assist local financial institutions to develop appropriate education loan products. 

Improve Education Quality 

  • Support non-state schools through professional development of school leaders and teachers.

Project Details




USAID/CATALYZE, implemented by Palladium


UBS Optimus Foundation, Promoting Equality in African Schools (PEAS), Education Partnerships Group (EPG), EFC Zambia, AB Bank, ZANACO, NATSAVE, Madison Finance, VisionFund, FINCA, Xtenda Finance



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Through robust partnerships with organizations, financial institutions, and funders, Opportunity International is implementing a wide range of education initiatives in communities and countries around the world.

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