Higher Education Loans Board reaches out to private sector to boost fund

By Frankline Sunday

The Higher Education Loans Board is reaching out to the private sector and individuals in a bid to boost the value of its revolving fund.

This, the board hopes, will help it increase its lending capacity, which has been hard hit by a sharp increase in the number of students enrolled in the country’s institutions of higher learning.

The board recently announced the launch of the Afya Elimu Fund, a joint partnership between Helb, Usaid, the Kenya Private Sector Alliance and selected government ministries.

The private-public partnership hopes to raise Sh1.5 billion that will go towards providing education loans for health studies.

Increasing need

According to Helb Chief Executive Officer Charles Ringera, the fund is re-aligning itself to respond to the increasing need for higher education financing.  

“Kenya has a shortage of health workers, and this puts at risk our ability to achieve Vision 2030 and the millennium development goals,” he said.

As the State financier for higher education loans in the country, the board will be leveraging its established lending machinery to disburse the Kepsa-funded Afya Elimu Fund,

“First-line health workers, especially those pursuing diploma and certificate courses, stand to benefit directly from this fund that we hope will go a long way towards responding to the existing gaps in the capacity development of the country’s health workforce.”

Under the fund, which is set to be rolled out next month, students pursuing medical studies who qualify for the loan will be granted up to Sh150,000 in tuition fees and personal stipends.

Apart from the private sector, the board is also looking to high-net individuals and beneficiaries who have overpaid their loans to donate the surplus to the kitty.

Already, Helb said, there are several loanees who have agreed to convert their surplus remittances to the board’s revolving fund, and it was reaching out to other beneficiaries to do the same.

Repayments to the revolving fund by past beneficiaries have been slow in coming, clipping Helb’s wings. Last month, the board announced it would blacklist close to 70,000 former beneficiaries through the Credit Reference Bureau for failing to repay their outstanding loans.