Private student financing in Rwanda: A call for broad higher education funding

On 1 March 2024 at 12:32

Jacqueline Uwamahoro, a graduate of Davis College—Akilah Institute’s co-ed university—shared her transformative journey thanks to the support she received from Chancen International.

Chancen International is the first private student financing operator that aims to provide fair and affordable access to education finance , particularly targeting students from low-income earning families using Income Share Agreement (ISA) model.

During the high-level stakeholder consultation on financing quality education for decent employment, held on February 27, Uwamahoro emphasised the crucial role of private companies in the education sector, citing her personal experience as a beneficiary of Chancen International’s innovative Income Share Agreement.

Uwamahoro said that coming from a rural background, she faced financial challenges that threatened her dream of attending university. Traditional loans and scholarships were not viable options, leading her to discover the lifeline offered by Chancen International.

The Income Share Agreement, according to Uwamahoro, allowed her to embark on her academic journey without constant worries about tuition fees, providing peace of mind and enabling her to focus on her studies wholeheartedly. Under the ISA model she only needs to starts repaying once she secures a decent job, defined as job which pays her more than Rwf80, 000 net per month.

“Even during challenging times such as the COVID-19 pandemic, Chancen International remained committed and supportive, ensuring my successful graduation in 2022,” she said.

Uwamahoro, now employed, completed her repayment under the unique model of the Income Share Agreement. She highlighted the manageable burden and alignment with her financial capacity, urging stakeholders to recognise that with the right support and innovative solutions, the dreams of young people are not only achievable but within reach.

Chancen International has already provided financial support to over 3,000 students and is expanding its portfolio to serve more through collaborations with seven higher education institutions, including Kepler, Ines Ruhengeri, Catholic University of Rwanda, and Muhabura.

Call for increased representation of private financial institutions

Ross T Nathan, the Chief Operating Officer of Chancen International, underscored the need for more private financing service providers such as banks, Microfinance institutions to scale student financing in Rwanda, to complement government-sponsored student finance models like the Rwanda Development Bank (BRD),

Nathan called for a regulatory framework where private financial service providers can directly engage employers to ensure repayment, emphasising that this would encourage more financial institutions to develop student-financing models.

The Director General of the High Education Council (HEC), Rose Mukankomeje, highlighted the importance of collective efforts in investing in high-quality education, emphasising the need for collaboration and discussions to improve initiatives and involve more contributors to higher-level learning.

Mukankomeje further pointed out that collaborative efforts can contribute to making Rwanda an education hub, emphasising the importance of sustainable investments in education for the country’s growth and development.

Stakeholders concluded with an agreement on the necessity to push for a broader higher education financing policy that ensures investors can recuperate individual repayments from the graduate base, among other elements.

The conversation also reflected further on the need for increased investment in higher education from private actors such as employers, and financial institutions, through the establishment of an education bond, which could also collect significantly from a skilling levy.

Chancen International’s vision is to facilitate 10,000 students by 2026, which is an important contribution towards equitable access to quality education and skills.

Batya Blankers is the Co-founder and CEO of Chancen International was also part of the event.
Nathalie Munyampenda is the Chief Executive Officer of Kepler.
The Director General of the High Education Council (HEC), Rose Mukankomeje, highlighted the importance of collective efforts in investing in high-quality education.