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A Review of the IDP Rising Schools Program at Sinapi Aba: Implementing a Sustainable Low-Income Schools Loan Product in Ghana

January 2017
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IDP Foundation was approached by CapitalPlus Exchange (CapPlus), a local non-profit organization that works closely with financial institutions in emerging markets to serve small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and assist in growing their businesses more effectively. CapPlus took interest in the IDP Rising Schools Program and its success in providing finance to affordable private schools. As a result, CapPlus conducted a case study review and analysis of the IDP Rising Schools Program (IDPRSP) and partner Sinapi Aba Savings and Loans (Sinapi Aba) through extensive interviews with IDP officials, Sinapi Aba staff and IDPRSP school proprietors. The evaluation revealed the tremendous successes of the program, both as a market segment for Sinapi Aba, and as a benefit to the low-fee private school sector in Ghana, their proprietors and the families and children served by the program.


Trying to serve a rural, low income population is never an easy task for a financial institution – and providing finance to the affordable private primary schools that serve this market is even tougher. A unique pairing of a funder, the IDP Foundation based in Chicago, Illinois, and an MFI lender in Ghana, Sinapi Aba, developed a formula that profitably serves this market, reaching the “higher hanging fruit” among private schools. The program demonstrates that commercial financial institutions can be sustainably lending to low cost private schools.

The IDP Rising Schools Program (IDPRSP) is designed to support low-fee private schools in Ghana. The IDP Foundation identified education of children of low-income families as its priority, and particularly decided to address the need for financial literacy of proprietors and good schools management, to improve school operations. It hoped that the training would ‘move’ more marginal schools into a position where they could become potential loan customers, to finance expansion and improvement of facilities, and thereby build the schools that could provide the quality education that low-income children need. The program particularly targets unregistered schools (which are encouraged to register with the Ghana Education Service), as well as “C” and “D” rated schools, with low-income students and poor infrastructure.

Finding the right partner was critical – a financial institution that could identify potential clients and deliver services on the ground, but equally importantly, which shared the spirit of the venture. Although a for-profit savings and loan company, Sinapi Aba has a strong social change mission, and sees itself as a “mustard seed” which provides opportunities for enterprise development and income generation to the economically disadvantaged, to help transform their lives. Sinapi Aba espouses a Christian orientation and philosophy, but its products and services are available to any financially responsible customer.

Click here to review the full case study.

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