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Graduation, cap and diploma Credit: Maxpixel

8B Education Investments, which built the first platform that connects high-potential African students with world-class colleges and universities and the tools needed to level up their applications and financial options, announced a partnership with Nelnet Bank to originate $30 million of loans over three years.

The partnership, enabled by 8B’s use of what officials called innovative credit enhancement to guarantee losses incurred by Nelnet for the loan program’s duration, marks the first lending program by a United States-based bank to African students enrolled in American schools.

Officials said the $30 million commitment 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 depending on the luck of obtaining a scholarship,” Dr. Lydiah Kemunto Bosire, 8B’s founder and CEO, said in a statement.

“The world has underinvested in African brilliance. As a result, hundreds of thousands of African students every year obtain offers from world-class universities and fail to enroll, primarily due to a lack of financing.

“We are thrilled that our partnership with Nelnet Bank will help us to provide financing for this underserved group of brilliant students and create an example on how to accelerate African access to global innovation ecosystems.”

According to a news release, 8B estimates that the 500,000 African students enrolled in global universities represent 30 percent of students who received offers from such universities.

Consequently, Africans are underrepresented in global universities and, by extension, in global innovation ecosystems.

“Our partnership with 8B is a historic step in the history of student lending and a giant leap forward toward increasing access for African students,” said Andrea Moss, CEO of Nelnet Bank.

“Together, we will be able to provide an opportunity to one of the fastest growing student demographics in the world and one that has been overlooked for too long. Nelnet Bank is thrilled to work on this with our colleagues from 8B Education Investments.”

As the first fintech solution focused on African students, 8B said it’s committed to enabling African brilliance to have a global impact. 8B provides tools to allow African students to identify best-fit global universities, level up their applications, access affordable financing, and connect with career support for job placement.

“There are few affordable student lending options for African learners though there is a broad swath for international students. Nelnet’s bold loan funding commitment to 8b Education Investments will catalyze growth and unlock African excellence,” said Debra Fine, Founding Board Chair 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 seen. 8B uses a proven business model to create value and extraordinary impact across Africa and the world. This partnership is an excellent example of how private capital can invest in the future of Africa.”

8B and Nelnet Bank announced their partnership as part of the CGI meeting, which convenes global and emerging leaders to take action on the world’s most pressing challenges.

Within the CGI community, 8B said it had brought together several partners to support African access to global innovation ecosystems.

The release notes that 8B’s CGI commitment, 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 for financing world-class human capital development in low-income countries.

The partnerships have a combined value of $111.6 million that will deploy over the next three years.

“These partnerships will transform the lives of over 1,400 future innovators from the African continent through affordable student financing and reach over 2 million African students in higher education,” officials wrote in the news release.

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