Kiva’s first full-tuition student loans: Looking at both sides of the coin

Olivia, one of the first full tuition Kiva loan students.

Nessa E. French | KF 17 | Kenya

“Life will change for you now, please make us proud.”

“I hope you will be the president of Kenya someday.

These statements represent the high hopes that everyone at Strathmore University has for the first nine students who received full tuition loans through Kiva to pursue their undergraduate degrees there.  They also represents how extraordinary and truly driven these first students are. Kiva lenders seem to agree on their high potential: the first full tuition loan posted to the site was funded in less than 12 hours.

Strathmore’s loan application and interview process is not easy –for the candidates or for the loan committee. For the upcoming semester, which begins in July, there were only nine full tuition loans available. That means that half of the 18 promising candidates who interviewed did not make the cut. As someone who has only been on the applicant’s side of admissions decisions, or even job applications, it has been difficult — sometimes even heart wrenching — to interview candidates who did not meet some of the criteria and were unable to receive the loan.

Donie, one of the first full tuition Kiva loan students-

This is a loan of over 1 million Kenyan shillings, which is a huge amount of money that the student has to pay back after graduation. Due to this serious commitment, Strathmore has devised criteria, and an application and interview process to ensure that the students chosen fully understand the commitment they are making and are prepared to make the most of their experience and the opportunity they are being given.

The loans can truly make or break someone’s future. Many of the candidates do not have other options to pursue their undergraduate degrees given their families’ financial constraints.  As difficult as this process can be, it can also be exhilarating when we are able to publish a student’s profile on Kiva after they have met all the criteria, and have successfully gone through the application and interview process.

You may be wondering why I am discussing this other side of Kiva

Lilian- one of the first full tuition Kiva loan students at Strathmore-

– the flip side of the coin, if you will.  Especially when my first two blog posts were so incredibly positive about the impact Kiva is having at Strathmore. Well, that’s just it. I want you, devoted Kiva followers and lenders, to understand

exactly how impactful your loans to Strathmore students are. You are changing the fates of the young Kenyan men and women who are receiving full tuition loans.  The high demand for this financing, even in this first round, demonstrates

the absolute necessity for its existence in the first place.  I have to give Kiva and Strathmore major ‘props,’ if you will, for swiftly and effectively setting up this partnership.

Strathmore’s partnership is unique in that, if a student does not get fully funded on Kiva, they do not receive the loan from Strathmore. Strathmore does not pre-disburse these loans from their own funds. Rather, the student is approved to be funded on Kiva by Strathmore, and is only guaranteed tuition once they reach 100% raised.  The last four students are currently fundraising on Kiva right now.  There were 4 students fundraising when I posted this on Thursday May 31st at 8:00 am EST but, I am hopeful that a few may be fully funded by the time you read this article. I have had the good fortune to meet all of the first full tuition loan students and even visit a few of their homes. I look forward to introducing them to you in an upcoming post so that you can understand just how outstanding they really are.

And, on behalf of Strathmore University and the Kiva loan students, I want to say thank you Kiva lenders. Your loans are truly changing lives.

Peter- one of the first full tuition Kiva loan students at Strathmore-

About the author

Nessa E. French