Scale: How big can Malengo get?

Addressable market

On the demand side, UNESCO data indicate that there are 76.1m students who graduate from secondary school in low-income countries each year. Combining this figure with country-specific data on the share of people under 25 who want to permanently migrate to another country from the Gallup World Poll, we estimate that 22.2m secondary school graduates from low-income countries may want to study abroad each year.

On the supply side, an estimated 26.1m students start a BA program in high- and upper-middle income countries each year. Thus, existing capacity in high- and upper-middle income countries would have to increase by 85% to accommodate all potentially interested students from low-income countries.[1]

Countries for scaling

Table 1 provides an overview of study conditions in a select number of OECD countries. What these countries have in common is that they subsidize tuition fees, so that study costs are lower than e.g. in the US, the UK, or Canada, which are omitted for this reason. As a result, the cost of a degree ranges from USD 11,667 to USD 74,469, assuming that students have part-time jobs in the latter years of the degree (column 1). Combining these figures with OECD data on average salaries in these countries (column 2), students earn back the cost of the degree within between 2.5 months and 1.5 years of working (column 3).

To estimate the number of potentially available spots for foreign students in these countries, we collected all Bachelor programs taught in English or French. Based on informal conversations with universities, we conservatively estimate that each program has 30 spots for foreign students per year. This yields a total of 1.16m estimated spots for students from low-income countries each year. The total potential direct cost for this number of students is USD 25.2bn per year.

Table 1: Study conditions for low-income country students across countries

CountryTotal cost of tuition + first-year living expensesAverage salaryYears of salary to earn back BA degree costEstimated number of spots for foreign students per yearPotential direct costs per year
Total per year1,159,215$25,242,092,335

Scaling timeline

Malengo’s scaling timeline is shown in Table 2. We expect to send 100 students to Germany in 2022. In 2023, we plan to add Belgium and France, followed by Austria, Italy, and Switzerland (2024); Portugal, Finland, Sweden, Netherlands (2025); Denmark, Spain, Ireland (2026); and Norway (2027). We project that the number of students can grow by a factor of about 3.3 each year. At this rate, the program will reach 1.12m students per year by 2030, for a total financing volume of USD 30.3bn/year (including administrative costs).

Table 2: Scaling plan for Malengo, 2022–2030

CountryPer-student costEstimated max # of students per yearStudents per year        
Norway$14,23590     90909090
Total students / year1004501,8005,98515,13546,075126,035334,6651,117,295
Cumulative total of students1005502,3508,33523,47069,545195,580530,2451,647,540
Direct cost / year$1,354,200$6,296,100$27,029,900$100,149,170$276,475,520$873,063,280$2,584,116,790$6,792,790,980$22,120,178,610
Overhead / year$500,783$2,328,298$9,995,657$37,035,163$102,240,647$322,858,801$955,606,389$2,511,974,104$8,180,042,050
Total cost / year$1,854,983$8,624,398$37,025,557$137,184,333$378,716,167$1,195,922,081$3,539,723,179$9,304,765,084$30,300,220,660
Cumulative cost  $3,709,966$17,248,796$74,051,114$274,368,666$757,432,335$2,391,844,162$7,079,446,358$18,609,530,169$60,600,441,320

Financial needs 2022–2023

We expect to send 100 students to Germany in 2022, and 450 students to Germany, Belgium, and France in 2023. The total funding need (including administrative costs) for both years is USD 10,479,381, of which we have raised $850,000 as of March 2022, leaving a funding gap of USD 9,629,381.

[1] About 9% of students in high-income countries are from abroad.