Financing higher education in Sub-Saharan Africa


At a glance

Every student should have equal opportunities in accessing higher education and the freedom to choose how they realize their career aspirations independent of their financial background.

Our partner, CHANCEN International works with selected colleges and universities in Rwanda to offer their students Income Share Agreements to finance their studies. UBS Optimus Foundation and CHANCEN are working together on a new financing model for education financing in Africa.

The partners

CHANCEN offers young people in Africa access to vocational and higher education through an innovative, student centric financing model, called Income Share Agreements.

The problem

  • In Sub-Saharan Africa eight million young people are in tertiary education (vocational colleges and universities). That is about 9 percent of young people – more than double the share in 2000 (4 percent), but far lower than the world average (~40 percent) or the average in North America & Western Europe (~80 percent).
  • Demand is rising: Whereas 42% of people aged 20-24 completed secondary school in 2012, 59% are forecast to do so by 2030.
  • Only access to high quality education & skills development lead to employment; yet many talented young people cannot afford the tuition fees of high quality public and private institutions.

The solution

CHANCEN has partnered with selected colleges and universities in Rwanda who can prove a high level of employment amongst their graduates. CHANCEN offers their students Income Share Agreements (ISAs) to finance their studies. With an ISA, students can focus on their studies, while CHANCEN takes care of the tuition fee payments. Once graduates start working and earn above the minimum income threshold, they make income-based repayments. ISAs go beyond financial support. Students gain financial literacy skills, job readiness training and an active alumni network for lifelong career support. Social impact and financial returns are aligned in this model.

The benefit that students draw from their education is evidenced by their employment outcomes, which, in turn, defines the amount they ultimately pay for their education.

The evidence

  • CHANCEN has financed 1,257 ISAs worth $1.2m in Rwanda since July 2018.
  • 24 students have started repayments in 2019 and and additional ~400 students will start this year.
  • 47% of the financed students are from rural areas and 77% are female.

The Impact

UBS-OF and CHANCEN are working on a financing structure to increase the scale and sustainability of CHANCEN's operations.

Justice and Care works towards SDGs: