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.
Investment vehicle design
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)