For more on the U.S. education loans set aside for Africans, VOA’s Carol Van Dam spoke to the CEO of 8B Education, Lydiah Kemunto Bosire.
The interview was edited for brevity and clarity.
VOA: Tell us more about the partnership your organization has with Nelnet Bank to assist Africans looking to pursue an education in the U.S.?
Bosire: Banks in the U.S. that have student financing products require credit ratings or collateral which is not possible for African students.
The first achievement of this partnership is inclusion. The partnership is enabling borrowers who are otherwise locked out of access to the financing they need to take advantage of schools providing offers to them.
The second thing is about meeting the needs of schools that are both our clients and Nelnet’s clients. Such schools are looking for diversity in student pipelines for international students, beyond the usual destinations, for example those from India or China.
By enabling smart students to receive financing, this will diversify the international students’ body.
VOA: Is this the first time a U.S. institution has stepped up to make an investment of such stature?
Bosire: This is the first time that an American bank has done this, and we are grateful to Nelnet for innovating and stepping outside the box to do this.
For Nelnet to work with us and be creative about how this can work without an American cosigner is truly innovative.
What we are bringing to the table is the insight that comes from spaces like international development finance, in removing risk to capital that taps into spaces that are otherwise considered risky and bringing that into student financing.
VOA: You say the world has under invested in African brilliance. What do you mean by that?
Bosire: If you look around any classroom in a computer science lab or any undergraduate student body, what you will see is a lot of international students who come from the Indian subcontinent, a large amount from China.
Population wise the Indian subcontinent is similar in size to the one of Africa.
We must start from the belief that brilliance is evenly distributed across the world.
VOA: What would you say to critics who say this program will help African students receive a quality education, but upon completion of their studies, they do not return to Africa to use their newly acquired education and skills to develop the continent?
Bosire: I would respond by saying, look at who is running Alphabet Inc, which is one of the most valuable companies in the world.
The CEO, Sundar Pichai got his first degree in India, then moved to the U.S. where he attended graduate school. He is running the most valuable companies, and I do not hear anyone complaining about this being a loss for Alphabet or America.
He also represents India very well by demonstrating what Indian human capital is building. That is what we want for African brilliance.