8B Investment in education is working with US-based Nelnet Bank in a “first-of-its-kind” partnership to get more African students into North American institutions.
Although sub-Saharan Africa has the youngest population in the world, with 70% under the age of 30, African students accounted for approximately 4% of international students in the US in 2021/22.
One of the biggest obstacles for Africans who want to study abroad is funding, says Lydiah Kemunto Bosire, founder and CEO of 8B Education Investments.
That’s a challenge Bosire, who was born in Kenya, has experienced firsthand. After receiving a scholarship to study at an international school in Wales, she struggled to finance her higher education, but saw that students from other countries had relatively easy access to loans. Despite the challenges, Bosire now holds degrees from Cornell University and the University of Oxford.
Students who secure enough funds to study at a university abroad often encounter “exchange rate drama” and leave because “the money is not there,” Bosire said. PIE News.
8B Education Investments was launched to address these issues. The organization raised $3 million in seed funding earlier this year and plans to open a new round of funding in late 2023.
Initially, only students who have completed STEM, accounting and finance programs in North America will be able to apply, but the organization plans to expand to other countries and subjects in the future.
8B Education Investments currently has teams operating in Kenya, Ghana and Uganda leading university outreach and student engagement. Funding is available to students from any African country.
The loans are expected to be ready to go from April 2023, around the same time students start receiving offers for the next academic year.
Students will start paying only the interest on the loans during their studies, ahead of the normal repayments set within six months of graduation and the last seven years.
8B Education Investments has also worked with institutions including Minerva and the University of Antigua to create risk reserve programs, whereby the loan is disbursed directly to the institution, with a share held back if the student drops out. These initiatives can help universities struggling to recruit African students get “more through the door,” Bosire said.
“The world is opening up to global talent”
The organization wants to go beyond funding and become a “curated destination” for information on study abroad and career prospects, with the goal of “becoming a companion to young, ambitious, brilliant Africans,” Bosire said.
“The world is opening up to global talent and we want to be there to push African talent through the gates,” Bosire said.