At Direct Aid, we firmly believe that education serves as the cornerstone of societal and economic development. Since our inception, our mission has centered around aiding and uplifting the most underserved communities across Africa, with a particular focus on education. We have strived to achieve this through various initiatives, including the establishment of schools and universities, as well as comprehensive support programs for students. Among these initiatives is our Educational Loans Program, which aims to address the issue of high tuition fees hindering access to higher education.
Across many African countries, we observed a distressing trend of students discontinuing their education after completing the basic levels due to the financial burden of pursuing higher education. This unfortunate situation often results in the premature exclusion of graduates from contributing to their societies’ economic and social progress. To combat this challenge, Direct Aid has been providing vital support to outstanding students with limited financial means, enabling them to pursue higher education through scholarships and educational loan programs since 2018.
In 2018, we initiated the Educational Loan Program in partnership with AlUmmah University in Kenya and Simad University in Somalia, collaborating with the African Endowment for Education and Development Foundation and Premier Bank, respectively. Through this program, students contribute a portion of their tuition fees each semester, while the program covers the remaining amount as a no-interest loan. Beneficiary students are expected to repay the loan within three years after graduating. Moreover, we emphasize instilling values of volunteering and community service among students, facilitating their acquisition of valuable job skills during their academic journey.
Our program offers a mix of partial grants and refundable loans tailored to each student’s financial capacity and academic excellence. While we encountered challenges such as a declining number of applicants and occasional payment defaults, we collaborated closely with our partners to find solutions. These solutions included intensifying marketing efforts to attract more student applicants, setting clear deadlines for document submission and fee payment, and maintaining continuous communication and support for students, helping them overcome obstacles from the early stages of their education.
It is noteworthy that, since its launch in 2018 until the end of 2022, our Educational Loan Program has achieved remarkable results. A total of 1,306 male and female students have benefited from the program, with 690 students attending AlUmmah University in Kenya and 616 students at Simad University in Somalia. The total value of support provided is approximately 2 million US dollars, with an impressive average repayment rate of nearly 93%. These students have pursued diverse fields of study, including business administration, economics, Islamic studies, nursing, computer science, engineering, law, and medicine, all contributing to the empowerment of African society by supplying the labor market with well-qualified graduates poised to shape their societies’ futures.
Many success stories have emerged from our program, including that of Dr. Efraj Abdullah Sharif, a recent graduate from the Faculty of Medicine. Dr. Sharif shares his journey: “I come from a humble family that couldn’t afford my medical education. When I learned about Direct Aid’s scholarships for exceptional students in need, I eagerly submitted my application, praying for an opportunity to fulfill my dream. Receiving the acceptance guarantee letter brought immense joy to my heart, relieving my family of the financial stress associated with tuition fees.”
Dr. Sharif continues, “One of the unforeseen challenges during my studies was the pressure to maintain top grades to keep the program support. However, I realized how fortunate I was to receive this special opportunity, and I banished all negative thoughts. I remained focused on achieving my dream of completing medical school. I extend heartfelt thanks to my sponsor for their unwavering support throughout my academic journey.”
Direct Aid remains committed to advancing the cause of education in Africa and empowering its youth to become catalysts for societal progress.