Impact Investing - Cogna Educação

3 min read 13 May 21

Bridging the educational gap in Brazil

Founded in 1966, Cogna is the largest private educational company in Brazil. Generally speaking, affluent children in Brazil attend expensive private schools and progress into public universities, which creates a barrier for less-affluent children. In the past, the Brazilian government would help through grants and loan programmes, but this is no longer the case. As government is no longer able to fill this gap, Cogna has become a more affordable and effective private option.

Cogna began its educational services in 1966, when five friends founded the Pitágoras preparatory course for university admission exams – within two years, 600 students had enrolled. This initiative grew throughout the next decades, opening the first Pitágoras school in 1974, creating the Pitágoras network of schools in the 1990s and the first Pitágoras college in the 2000s. In 2014, under Cogna’s former name Kroton, the company merged with Anhanguera Educacional, to make it the largest educational company in the world in terms of market cap and students.

Cogna provides quality and affordable education to place lower-income students in a better position to enter the university system. Its core business is operating private post-secondary education programmes, which also cater to students in the low- to middle-income groups. It operates across all educational segments, including preschool, elementary, secondary, higher, professional and post-graduation education, and has 143 post-secondary education campuses across 101 cities in Brazil. The uncertainty which categorised 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, meant Cogna saw fewer admissions and re-admissions into its educational services, and thus a reduction in the number of students reached; from two million to 1.9 million. However, a strong expansion in the volume of new first-year university students was influenced by a digital hybrid solution and the move to online courses at a reduced cost – this meant courses were more accessible to low-income students. Cogna now has a 28% market share in the distance-learning segment.

Cogna meets the need for affordable and effective private education that caters for less affluent students in Brazil. It provides affordable loans and financing for eligible students, which places them in a better position to succeed in the public university system. Cogna also offers distance learning, which democratises access to higher education for students living in rural areas. Students can access on-line lessons and discussion forums through a virtual learning environment, meaning that access to education is less restricted by geographical location. 

In Brief:

  • Nationality: Brazilian
  • United Nations Sustainable Development Primary Goal #4: Quality education
  • Teaches nearly two million pupils in Brazil
  • Enables quality education in underserved areas
  • Largest private educational organisation in Brazil, with 687 associated schools and 1,410 distance learning centres
  • Better access to education in a country where only 17% of 25-34 years old have university degrees (vs 43% average in the OECD Countries)
  • Reaches 967 municipalities via distance learning 

While we support the UN SDGs, we are not associated with the UN and our funds are not endorsed by them.

All company data sourced from Cogna Educação. Figures shown were latest available from company literature, as at January 2021.

M&G (Lux) Positive Impact Fund invests in Cogna Educação.

If you want to know more about M&G (Lux) Positive Impact Fund please visit the fund page.

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