Through Stacy M. BrownSenior National Correspondent for NNPA Newswire
8B Education Investments, which built the first platform connecting high-calibre African students with world-class colleges and universities and the tools needed to improve their applications and financial options, announced a partnership with Nelnet Bank to provide loans of of $30 million to be awarded over three years.
The partnership, made possible by the use of 8B, in what officials described as an innovative credit enhancement, to guarantee losses incurred by Nelnet for the duration of the loan program, is the first loan program by a US-based bank to African students who are enrolled in American schools.
Officials said the $30 million pledge is part of a broader $111.6 million pledge made last month at the Clinton Global Initiative to accelerate African students’ access to global universities.
“Until now, African students have had limited access to global universities, with enrollment largely dependent on luck of getting a scholarship,” said Dr. Lydiah Kemunto Bosire, Founder and CEO of 8B, in a statement.
“The world has underinvested in African brilliance. As a result, each year hundreds of thousands of African students receive offers from world-class universities and do not enroll, largely due to a lack of funding.
“We are delighted that our partnership with Nelnet Bank will help us provide funding to this underserved group of brilliant students and set an example of how Africa can accelerate access to global innovation ecosystems.”
According to a press release, 8B estimates that the 500,000 African students enrolled in global universities account for 30 percent of the students who have received offers from such universities.
Consequently, Africans are underrepresented at global universities and thus also in global innovation ecosystems.
“Our partnership with 8B is a historic step in the history of student lending and a giant leap forward in increasing access for African students,” said Andrea Moss, CEO of Nelnet Bank.
“Together we will be able to provide an opportunity for one of the fastest growing student demographics in the world that has been overlooked for too long. Nelnet Bank looks forward to working on this with our colleagues at 8B Education Investments.”
As the first fintech solution focused on African students, 8B is committed to enabling African brilliance to have a global impact. 8B provides tools to help African students identify the most suitable global universities, enhance their applications, access affordable funding and connect with career support for job placement.
“There are few affordable student loan options for African learners, although there are a wide range for international students. Nelnet’s bold loan financing commitment to 8b Education Investments will spur growth and unleash African excellence,” said Debra Fine, Chair of the Founding Committee of 8B Education Investments and Chair of Fine Capital Partners.
“I have spent 35 years evaluating business opportunities. This partnership is one of the most extraordinary I have ever seen. 8B uses a proven business model to create value and exceptional impact in Africa and the world. This partnership is an excellent example of how private capital can invest in Africa’s future.”
8B and Nelnet Bank announced their partnership at the CGI meeting, which brings together global and emerging leaders to take action on the world’s most pressing challenges.
Within the CGI community, 8B said it had brought together multiple partners to support African access to global innovation ecosystems.
The press release notes that 8B’s CGI engagement, including students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), will accelerate African access to global innovation ecosystems and promote diversity and inclusion in global universities and workplaces.
It will also build a scalable market-based model to finance world-class human capital development in low-income countries.
The partnerships have a total value of $111.6 million to be deployed over the next three years.
“These partnerships will transform the lives of over 1,400 future innovators from the African continent through affordable student finance and reach over 2 million African students in higher education,” officials wrote in the press release.