There are brilliant people all around the world, but not everyone is afforded the same opportunities. And while there are plenty of startups out there trying to make a difference by promoting diversity and equity at scale, their efforts are primarily focused on those already in the workforce. 8B Education Investments is looking to change that with its lending program, which will help African students pursue studies in U.S. universities.
8B Education Investments lending program will occur in partnership with Nelnet Bank, which agreed to originate $30 million of loans over three years. The partnership is part of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) 2022 meeting, where 8B announced $111.6 million in funding commitments from a variety of partners dedicated to the cause.
Dr. Lydiah Kemunto Bosire, 8B’s founder and CEO, remarked that African students have not had much access to global universities without the luck of attaining a scholarship. According to her, the end result has been that “hundreds of thousands of African students obtain offers from world-class universities and fail to enroll, largely due to a lack of financing.”
8B Education Investments’ initiative and its partnership with Nelnet Bank aim to change that by providing brilliant students with opportunities they might otherwise miss.
While the scope of the initiative is university studies, it stands to make a much larger impact. African startups and founders have already displayed a great deal of innovation and talent, especially in recent years. By providing top-tier education to more African students, 8B hopes to make a global impact and bring about even more innovation.
As part of the initiative, 8B is providing the tools necessary for African students to see success. That includes helping them find the best-fit global universities, ensuring they level up their applications to be as competitive as possible, and providing access to affordable financing. Beyond that, it will connect students with career support for job placement.
According to Debra Fine, Founding Board Chair of 8B Education Investments and Chair of Fine Capital Partners, “There are few affordable student lending options for African learners though there are a broad swath for international students.”
That is particularly concerning since Africa is home to around 1.2 billion people, a majority of which are young people under the age of thirty. In fact, 200 million of the overall population are youths between the ages of 15 and 24, a number expected to double by 2045, according to the United Nations.
Making a difference for underserved African students is a goal shared by those that took part in the CGI meeting, which brings together global and emerging leaders, willing them to tackle the world’s most pressing challenges. Members of the CGI community brought together by 8B Education Investments include:
- Education and Testing Services (ETS), which is providing vouchers to help African students pay fees associated with required tests for global universities.
- University of Health Sciences Antigua, which plans to give 50 percent tuition scholarships to African medical students.
- World Resources Institute (Africa), which is supporting paid internships for African graduate students in disciplines related to climate resilience.
Moreover, there are plans to research the diversity practices of U.S. universities, focusing on policy-related barriers faced by African students.
And those are only some of the partners involved in helping African students succeed. It is truly a massive undertaking that will see innovation at a global scale and fuel diversity and inclusion globally as funds are deployed over the next three years.