When upliftment is healthy business – Stadio illustrates

CAPE TOWN — Innovative, highly successful young executives often say that merely finding and filling a gap in the market doesn’t necessarily cut it. Their value-add formula is to also become a force for social good. Here, the company behind the country’s most successful private school operator – Curro – eloquently illustrates this. Not only are they rapidly expanding, (800 students in 2017 to 30,000 today), they plan to set up a private medical university in collaboration with a highly successful existing nearby university in Durbanville, Cape Town. The lack of medical professionals, especially specialists, in South Africa is so dire that government recently floated legislation called the Certificate of Needs. This would have forced newly-qualified doctors to practice where the most pressing health needs are, rather than set up in a cushy metropole already well-subscribed. Such “certificates,” were mooted for registration to practice, but the draft law was iced after legal advice on its’ Constitutionality. National health director’s general still believe they have a constitutional shot, based on the requirement of progressive access to equal healthcare, so a legal thawing is possible. The point is, our nine medical campuses, plus Cuban training, plus Community Service, simply aren’t meeting the nation’s health needs. – Chris Bateman

By Antony Sguazzin and Liezel Hill

(Bloomberg) – Stadio Holdings Ltd., which runs privately owned universities in South Africa, expects to more than triple its enrolments by 2030 and is in talks to set up a medical school joint venture with a government tertiary education institution, the company’s chief executive officer said.

The Cape Town-based company, which was spun off by the country’s largest operator of private schools in 2017, currently has about 30,000 students on its campuses and on correspondence courses. It’s seeking to expand its offering by acquiring or setting up information technology and medical training facilities, Chris van der Merwe said. Stadio already provides teacher training, operates a business school and offers a fashion qualification.

“I would be very disappointed if we don’t get to 100,000 by 2030,” Van der Merwe said Thursday in an interview in Bloomberg’s offices in Johannesburg. The company, which had 800 students when it listed in 2017, is likely to exceed its pre-listing target of 56,000 students by 2026, he said.

Like its progenitor, Curro Holdings Ltd., Stadio is seeking to take advantage of the lack of affordable education in South Africa and it charges prices comparable with state institutions. While 400,000 students qualify for university access every year, there are only 170,000 places at government institutions, Van der Merwe said.

“I was a headmaster for many moons,” Van der Merwe said. “The biggest heart sore was when you walk the path with a youngster from grade 1 to 12 only to tell him 70% is not good enough” to get into university.

The company, which expects to spend another R1.5bn ($106m) on expansion in coming years, is currently in talks about the medical joint venture with a university he didn’t identify.

“It would be their curriculum, their teaching quality. But they don’t have the infrastructure,” he said. “Currently the planning is for the Western Cape, in Durbanville,” a suburb of Cape Town.

Stadio rose 4.2% in Johannesburg by 9:44am local time.