Gossy, Disruption, and Higher Education — The Impressive Numbers Behind His Innovation

Several weeks ago, I wrote about Gossy Ukanwoke’s enterprise and how it was disrupting, and thereby transforming, higher education in Nigeria. While the post was my second most-read, I realized later that my post was incomplete. I did not include any numbers. That was a mistake on my part, because the numbers are impressive. Very impressive. As you read this short post, I hope you will reflect on this — Gossy is only 27 years old. Think about the impact this school would have had when he turns 37… and then 47.

Let me start by reminding you that Nigeria currently has a shortfall of almost 1.5 million higher education spots for those interested in attaining any form of schooling after high school. In addition to that, many of the schools provide subpar education as unemployment for graduates in the country hover around 60% while employers are constantly complaining about the lack of quality staff. Gossy is working to solve both problems; quality and access. (Read my first post about Gossy’s school to learn more).

Numbers — We will start with revenues

In the 2013–2014 fiscal year, Gossy’s school grossed more than 30 million naira (with Nigeria’s exchange rate at the time, that converts to almost $200,000). The following year the school saw a 10% increase in revenues and grossed approximately 33.5 million naira. Due to the drop in the value of Nigeria’s currency, the naira, that amounts to about $152,000. These are the conditions in which Gossy and every business in Nigeria operates. You tend to take one step forward, but macro-economic realities beyond your control send you two steps backwards. Still, quite impressive for a start-up.

Then the students

In terms of impact, the numbers are equally notable. To date, the program has graduated 8,750 executive education students and it currently has 3,010 students enrolled. It recorded a 77% increase in enrollment from 2013 to 2014 school year. The school also boasts a 70% completion rate and has plans to grow that number to 85% minimum over the next few months through some platform and process innovations. Another interesting fact is that the students enrolled are from 16 different countries. On the surface, that might seem irrelevant but the impact of that cannot be understated.

According to BAU, Nigerians currently spend upwards of $10 billion annually on tuition, accommodation, living expenses, and social life abroad. What would happen if some, or most, of those funds are spent in Nigeria? Better yet, what would happen if Nigeria became a destination for higher education for students from other countries? Think about how many people would receive a quality education; how many people would receive employment; and perhaps most importantly, how many people would begin to find hope in a country that is seemingly devoid of it? Understandably, it is hard to imagine but so it is with disruptive businesses. They tend to sneak up on you and prove that the impossible is actually quite possible. But it cannot happen without hard work.

New Wins — Piloting Blended Learning

Recently, BAU signed on hundreds of students through a partnership in Ghana. This brings the school’s registered students to approximately 3,910. The students will be the first to receive the blended learning model from BAU.

The business environment in Nigeria, and many other poor countries, is difficult; resources are scarce; and the naysayers are plenty. But with innovations like this in the works, I am hopeful and know that conditions will improve.

Why this is Very Important

Through the course of my research, I am yet to find a country that has developed in a sustainable manner without making investments in disruptive innovations. The term, disruptive innovation, has been used and abused by everyone from Silicon Valley to Silicon Hills. But simply put, these are innovations that are targeted at the massive non-consumers that exist in a society because existing products are not affordable. Gossy’s school is just one step necessary to improve the economic conditions in Nigeria. I hope others will follow suit.

Give to BAU — http://bau.edu.ng/give