Leap Scholar, an education technology start-up and a study-abroad platform for South Asian students, plans to invest $20 million to expand its operations in the Middle East.
The company, which has its headquarters in San Francisco, will offer its services to students in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan and Israel. It also aims to expand into neighbouring regions, it said on Wednesday.
“This is a major step in our journey as we move ahead full steam in 2022 to take the Leap Scholar platform global. We are starting with the Middle East and we plan to subsequently expand to South-East Asia, South Asia and North Africa,” said co-founder Vaibhav Singh.
Education, which was among the industries most affected by movement restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic, was also among the first to digitise.
The Middle East and Africa’s EdTech and smart classroom market is projected to grow to $7.1 billion by 2027, according to research company Report Linker.
The widespread adoption of digital tools such as smartphones, interactive displays and online learning is expected to drive the sector's growth.
The region — with a market potential of about $11bn and more than 300,000 students hoping to study abroad, according to Leap — is emerging as an attractive destination for EdTech investment.
Earlier this month, Google-backed Indian platform Cuemath announced its expansion into Saudi Arabia. In January, Egypt-based Orcas secured $2.1m in new funding to expand its operations in the Mena region.
Leap said it aims to democratise access to international education for 10 million people globally over the next decade.
At present, it offers students the opportunity to study in the UK, the US, Canada, Australia and Ireland, with the first four the most popular destinations for students from the Middle East, it said.
Leap, which was founded in 2019 by Mr Singh and Arnav Kumar, has secured total funding of $77.5m. Its most recent Series C funding round was held in September, during which it raised $55m. It previously secured $17m in March 2021 and $5.5m in March 2020.
Its major investors include California-based Sequoia Capital and Owl Ventures, Singapore's Jungle Ventures and Harvard Management Company.
Leap offers counselling for students studying abroad and helps them to prepare for standardised exams. It also assists with university and visa applications, and provides networking opportunities for students from South Asia.
It has one million students and more than 1,000 colleges and universities that offer more than 10,000 courses and programmes, according to its website. It has provided scholarships worth about $250,000 so far.