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SPEECH BY HON EKWEE ETHURO, HELB CHAIRMAN, DURING THE HELB-UNIVERSITIES CONSULTATIVE FORUM, MOMBASA

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SPEECH BY HON EKWEE ETHURO, HELB CHAIRMAN, DURING THE HELB-UNIVERSITIES CONSULTATIVE FORUM, MOMBASA

The Chief Guest, Amb. Simon Nabukwesi, Principal Secretary, State Department of University Education and Research,

University Administrators & Students Leaders,                                                                                                              

Invited Speakers,    

HELB Staff,                                                      

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

Good Morning.

As we continue to celebrate the achievements made so far by the Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) of empowering dreams by providing financial intervention to Kenyans pursuing higher education, I wish to recognize the contribution made by all stakeholders in the higher education financing sector. The sector continues to face a number of challenges particularly as a result of COVID19 impact to Institutions of Higher learning, but I want to salute all stakeholders who have in one way or another contributed in these great achievements through focused commitment that has assisted HELB in the great success achieved this far.

HELB plays an essential role by facilitating all Kenyans enrolled in higher education institutions through provision of Loans, Bursaries and Scholarships. As a Board we remain focused on implementing the identified strategies as we continue to effectively fulfill our mandate. This is in line with the wider Government policy objectives of transforming Kenya into a globally competitive and prosperous nation by year 2030 through development of human capital.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

To achieve it’s short-medium and long term plans, HELB embraces Strategic Planning as a key performance improvement initiative in enabling successful delivery of its mandate. The current Strategic Plan is dubbed “HELB Agenda 2019-2023” and envisages a reformed, bolder, agile, customer focused, FINTECH enabled and Risk Intelligent organization which accords HELB employees a great place to work. HELB has anchored this strategy to 4 point National, Continental and Global development agendas namely: Vision 2030, The Big 4 Agenda, The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Africa Union (AU) Agenda 2063. The HELB Agenda 2019-2023 pillars are: Customer Centered Leadership; Sustainable Financing Initiatives; FinTech Optimization for Digital service delivery and Our People, Governance, Risk & Compliance.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Notably, HELB has empowered dreams of more than 1,065,200 students and disbursed over Kshs.115.8B. As of 31st January 2021, there were 563,293 mature loan accounts worth Kshs.69.33B while 501,907 loanees holding Kshs.46.464B had not matured for repayment. As of 31st January 2021, there were 563,293 mature loan accounts holding Kshs.69.33B. Out of these mature loans, 220,944 accounts holding Kshs.34.9B are repaying their loans while a total of 101,312 loanees holding Kshs.9.9B are in default. A total of 241,037 loanees holding Kshs.24.54B have completed repayment of their loans. HELB salutes and respects Kenyans who have honored or continue to honor their obligation to repay their student loans, without whom, we would not be able to deliver on her mandate of empowering dreams of needy students.

Where there are legal and policy changes required to enhance loan recovery and resource mobilization, my Board will engage the Ministry of Education to facilitate any legal framework reviews. During this Strategic Plan period, HELB seeks to progressively increase the average loan allocated to student per year by 5% thus increasing the student budget by 15% per year so as to progressively achieve universal funding by financing all applicants with adequate amount to cater for the rising cost of living and increasing college fees as the institutions continue to gradually implement the Differentiated Unit Cost (DUC) model of financing.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The HELB Universities Consultative Forum is held every two years to engage with the University fraternity on ways to improve on service delivery. This year, we hold this Forum at the backdrop of the global Covid-19 Pandemic and therefore the theme: Leading & Succeeding in Student Financing: Digitalizing University Education Post COVID-19,” is a reminder that we have no option but to adapt to a post Covid-19 world in the Education Sector. I therefore, call upon the University fraternity to continue walking with us on this journey of working towards not only achieving universal funding to Kenyans enrolled in institutions of higher learning but also graduates who have capacity to be innovative and resilient.

Nelson Mandela said ‘Education is the strongest and the most lethal weapon in reducing the gap between the rich and the poor’ we at HELB use this as our driving force as we continue to empower dreams of Kenyans by facilitating their education through higher education financing. This is why our central focus is on enriching our customer experience proposition as we strive to ensure the borrowing customers gets a memorable experience as they will be expected to in-turn repay the loan after completion of his/her studies in order to benefit future generations. We are conscious the experience we will give them as borrowing customers will be the same experience they will give the HELB when repaying the loan. This will assist us to create a National Higher Education Revolving fund for the current and future generations.

As we continue managing the growing customer base currently at over 1Million and an increasing balance sheet from Kshs 30 Billion in 2012 to about Kshs 100 Billion in 2021, HELB is clearly a 3rd tier financial institution. Moreover, our effort to compliment Exchequer and loan recoveries as the key sources of funds is expanding to external resource mobilization from Multilateral development partners, donors, devolved funds, corporates, individuals Ministry/Departments/Agencies and training institutions. PS as a Board we are committed to External Resource mobilization to progressively supplement Exchequer funding even as demand for our product continue to cause pressure on the current fund base. To this end my Board has undertaken to lead from the from in regard to resource mobilization including debt recovery from the Diaspora. We have also lined up a number of hybrid external resource mobilization instruments like Debt instrument and Asset Backed Securitization (ABS) to fund student laptop programme. We seek the support of the Ministry in supporting the Board pursue these critical promising leads. We are grateful of the World Bank support we got from the Ministry for policy concepts on ABS.

My Board appreciates that the Government is committed to ensuring that the youth access university education.  This is demonstrated by the allocation made to HELB year on year. The Board also appreciations that there are many national competing interests as far as funds are concerned. That notwithstanding,  I wish to make a passionate appeal that Exchequer releases to HELB be made in full, in good time and in line with the calendar of Higher Learning Institutions. This will enable us to fund the youth on time and avert scenarios of deferment and other inconveniences due to delayed Exchequer releases. PS you know as we sit here today HELBs Exchequer has been delayed extensively making the students live in horrible financial situation. We have seen all over on social media since last week on the condition that the students are living under. The notice to cut HELB’s budget this year by Kshs. 2.2B coming hot on the heels of loosing Quarter 4 Exchequer for the year 2019/20 has put a lot of pressure on HELB’s finances. And the complication comes in when a budgetary allocation is read through the printed budget estimates by the CS Treasury is reversed even after the Board has already allocated money to students. We request ring fencing of HELB budgetary allocations through you as the Accounting Officer of the State Department of University Education. As we usually say, a happy borrower will repay happily hence supporting stronger the aspect of Revolving Fund. A borrower who experienced pain points will refer to them at loan repayment stage and try as much as possible to throw back pain points to HELB. Such will frustrate loan recovery efforts thereby denying other deserving students an opportunity to be funded in addition limiting Appropriation in Aid from loan repayment.

On another note, Balozi, HELB Act continues to face legislative onslaught that continues to weaken its capacity to recover loans from past loanees. The onslaught rage from change of interest rates, prolonging borrowers repayment period to challenging HELB on if it ever sent money to a loanee or not. We request that MoE continues to engage Parliament to them understand when HELB is coming from in strengthening the mechanism of making the Fund to revolve for benefits of future generations.

If you look at the numbers HELB has achieved particularly the growth in total assets from Kshs.30B to the current almost Kshs.100B in a span of 5 years means a lot of prudent management of resources has been done and continues to be done. There is therefore the need to efficiently manage the state resources for the benefit of the Kenyan youth who requires funding in future. Universities must therefore be keen on ensuring that they support HELB in ensuring their students have a seamless experience with regards to HELB Loans.

As I close, I wish you all fruitful deliberations and now take this opportunity to invite the Principal Secretary State Department for University Education and Research, Amb. Simon Nabukwesi to make his remarks and officially open this Forum.

God Bless Kenya, God Bless HELB.