Brighter Investment

Accra, Ghana • 2016-2018
Team: Thijs Mathot, Richard Adarkwah

Without family support or scholarships, bright students can get priced out of post-secondary education. Brighter Investment provides an alternative solution.

Brighter Investment sunshine logo


Investment vehicle design
Service design
Start-up operations


Financing vehicle

The challenge

Post-secondary education is expensive, and career outcomes are not guaranteed. If students don't have family support or scholarships, the alternative are loans. In Ghana, bank loans have high interest rates, or have steep asks for collateral. Many bright, first-generation, low-income students end up being priced out of college.

I joined Brighter Investment as they were piloting Income Share Agreements (ISAs) their first few cohorts in Ghana. This is how the ISA model worked.

Graphic of how Brighter Investment works. 1. Investors pool money to fund student education. 2. Students earn their degree and pursue a career. 3. The student pays back a percentage of their income to investors.

Problem discovery

While there are potential downsides to ISAs, for first-generation, low-income (FLI) students, having another option to finance their higher education can be life-changing. As a FLI student myself, I also felt that access to financing was not enough. Getting through the door is one thing, but creating an environment that sets students up for success is another challenge all together.

One such challenge is figuring out the "hidden curriculum" of higher education, such as the unspoken rules of classroom behavior, the appropriate amount of time to wait before following-up on an email, or the expectations other students have when it comes to project work.

Problem definition

For FLI students, there is little support in figuring out the "hidden curriculum" of higher education, which refers to the unspoken rules of classroom behaviour, such as the how to behave in a group discussion, the expectations other students have when it comes to project work, or how and when to use a professor's office hours. Further, without knowing how to build a network, conduct informational interviews, or asking for a referral, getting a job might be more confusing than advanced calculus class for FLI students.

How does the Brighter Mentorship Program work?

My role was initially solely supporting the design and deployment of the Income Share Agreements. However, upon recognizing how FLI students might be underserved, I began the Brighter Mentorship Program that paired students with a senior from their school and an industry professional relevant to their desired career.

Co-designed with my colleagues in Ghana and drawing my personal experience navigating career paths as a FLI student, the Brighter Mentorship Program was designed to make the invisible rules of doing well in school and securing a job explicit.
Graphic of mentorship program. Three components: Excel in school, Career exploration, and Get the job.


150 cold emails sent to Ghanaian professionals
10 mentorship pairs formed

Empathizing with the end beneficiaries

We were able to:
Develop a service that met an invisible need, matching 10 FLI students with industry professionals (and many more since 2017)

The pilot focused on supporting 24 students studying in fields spanning from minerals processing to food sciences. Career navigation and development was not part of the curriculum for many of the students we served. We prepared a step-by-step plan that supplemented their academics, and connected them with industry professionals that could make the journey of navigating jobs less daunting.

Learn more

Screenshot of Brighter Investment website