News Column

HELB Plans to Boost Student Loan Portfolio

July 17, 2014

Henry Wanyama

THE Higher Education Loans Board plans to diversify into five avenues that would boost the student loan portfolio.

Higher education demand currently stands at Sh10 billion.

HELB Chief Executive Officer Charles Ringera said the current financial year had the board allocated Sh5.7 billion, which if put together with loan repayments the portfolio stands at Sh7 billion against the Sh10 billion demand.

According to HELB's strategic plan of 2013-18 the loan portfolio would increase from the current Sh7 billion to Sh19 billion by 2018 to cover the number for students in Universities and Colleges.

"Faced with the high demand, HELB is not only transforming to a bank, we plan to venture into specific funds to fulfill the urge of higher education in the country," Ringera said.

To upscale health workers education, HELB is venturing to a fund called Afya Elimu Fund.

Ringera said USAID would be financing the Afya Elimu Fund with Sh60 million per year while the Government of Kenya through HELB and the Ministry of Health will give Sh10 million.

"We also have a comprehensive plan to get the private sector on board to give another Sh60 million that will help to cover the entire lot in this cadre," Ringera disclosed.

He added that so far Rahimtulla Trust and Family Group Foundation have already put their seed capital.

He said the board would make the pipeline longer for private sector and county governments to participate.

The Accountants body -KASNEB - is arranging for its own fund of Sh10 million per year for a period of ten years, to be managed by the Board.

In the energy field, the World Bank is shepherding a partnership with the Kenya Oil and Gas Association to build capacity in the extractive resource space to support higher education.

Universities scholarships programmes have funds that HELB thinks it can manage under HELB's revolving funds management scheme.

Ringera said Kenyatta University already has given us Sh10 million to cover 100 students.

In another move that would smoke out many defaulters wherever they are, HELB would partner with the Association of Africa Higher Education Financing Agencies (AAHEFA) to globalize education loan recoveries.

Ringera is the current president of AAHEFA.

He said, for example, in South Africa there are 50,000 Kenyans out of whom about 80 percent are graduates, with about 60 percent of whom have not repaid our loans.

We will go ahead and partner with the South Africa's National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) to help us on trace our loanees in that country, Ringera said.

"This is a proposition we plan to table at AAHEFA for all members to discuss and deliberate," Ringera said.

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Source: AllAfrica

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