Like many brilliant Africans today, the founder of 8B Education Investments, Dr Lydiah Kemunto Bosire, faced various challenges in pursuing her dreams.
After winning scholarships that enabled her to be an academic and the beneficiary of renowned universities such as Cornell and Oxford, she founded 8B Education Investments. The company offers affordable financing for African students in global universities and connects these students with mentorships of peers & industry luminaries.
We caught up with her to uncover her critical insights on addressing Africa’s capacity building challenges and her thoughts on investing in the continent’s greatest asset: people.
The journey from Limuru to Oxford
It all started in the heart of Kenya, where a young and brilliant Lydiah Kemunto Bosire built her secondary education in Limuru, Kenya. Like many Kenyans looking for opportunities after high school, Lydiah was sourcing on Kenya’s Daily Nation classified section when she saw an announcement for a scholarship.
Having a former schoolmate receive one of these scholarships inspired Lydiah to take the leap and apply to the United World Colleges in the UK. As a result, she received a full scholarship to Cornell University and later received another opportunity to advance her education at the University of Oxford.
The beginning of 8B Education Investments
As a result of her academic success, Lydiah worked with the UN and the World Bank. As a result, she noticed a visible gap in the representation of African voices in positions of influence.
“There was this absence of Africans in spaces where they could access these career opportunities. That meant I found myself in many rooms where I was the only African, the first African. It was not because the topics were not relevant, did not include Africa, or that other Africans could not do this. Africans were just not in systems from where these institutions recruit.” – Dr Lydiah Kemunto Bosire.
This observation recurred enough times to influence Dr Bosire to form 8B Education Investments as a company rather than a non-profit, which provides 8B with enough space to scale.
A symphony of solutions
8B Education Investments uses education to get African talent in global spaces that provide the technological infrastructure and financial capital to facilitate idea creation, premiering, and innovating while providing these innovators with impactful mentorships.
On a mission to scale mentorship, 8B now provides a technology solution that makes them more accessible to students with their newest feature, Ladder by 8B, found on their website at ladder.africaglobaleducation.com.
The mentorship feature scales up vital connections for prospective African students interested in joining global universities and 8B students seeking advice on their career path after university.
You can measure success differently, but one metric is whether you can get the kind of internships and connections that will be helpful to you. And then there are the young professionals who wonder how they can make sure they are increasing their exposure to industry leaders and people who can explain and demystify job descriptions and workplace dynamics.
“Mentorship and networking are the two things without which I do not think my journey would have been possible. Most people that I speak with are either by design or accidentally found themselves relying on those a great deal.” – Dr Lydiah Kemunto Bosire.
De-risking education investment for Africans
Traditional education financing systems automatically pushed Africans out as they needed collateral, co-signing, or tangible proof of good credit or citizenship, which most Africans cannot produce.
Leveraging technology, 8B Education Investments use data to create a unique way of assessing and measuring an African student’s risk as a borrower.
They achieved this by looking at an African students’ pathway to a global university. This top-tier education opens opportunities that lead to higher salaries that can become the potential proof of good citizenship. This would then make African students lendable.
8B continue to strike partnerships with people and organisations that have the skin in the game, including a university with 100 USD given to their student, 8B hold roughly 15 to 20 USD in a risk reserve and remit the rest to the university.
Expert’s take on the role of academia in capacity building of Africa’s innovation ecosystem
1. Education provides avenues where Africans can train in every sector and plug into innovation ecosystems globally to solve global and African problems.
2. Education provides expertise to African innovators to grow and build technologies adapted to African needs, which in turn brings more ideas that can attract a Silicon Valley-like think-tank session.
“You must link human capital with financial capital, and then you will innovate, create, and solve problems. The University of Oxford has 900 years’ worth of investments, [research and development] RNDs, spaces, corners, labs. As we are getting Kenyan universities to increase their RND, I should get as many smart Kenyans who can get into Oxford university lab as possible go there because that is a resource and that is a fact.” – Dr Lydiah Kemunto Bosire.
Advice on how entrepreneurs can rethink mentorship
“Mentorship may sometimes suggest a formality to the relationship, but we often talk about intentional networking. You do not need to have a meeting every quarter for mentorship to be successful. Instead, you can reach out from time to time with specific thoughts and questions once you are in each other’s networks.”
“Be deliberate in noting what you have admired about how other people’s journeys have unfolded and reflected on what you might want to learn from the people you meet.”
“Maximise time spent on webinars. You do not necessarily need to talk to make the webinar worthwhile. Instead, practice active listening and consider connecting with other participants or speakers after the online event”
“If you are open to being advised and willing to be helpful, there are very few limits to the kind of people you can connect with. Look for interactions where you extract and give because that multiplies the possibilities of people engaging with you.”
Founder’s take on the future for 8B?
“We want to be a community for globally mobile Africans. The place where you find your kindred spirits, you get the resources you need, and you get the community you need to propel you in your journey to success.
A significant aspect of that is making sure we can meet the financing demand. Without the financing, the value is lessened because ultimately, you need to pay money to go to the universities that we think Africans have every right to because they are getting offers.
So, the ambition is to be the space where Africans who are globally mobile congregate, when they are going, when there, and when leaving because there is a lot to give back to creating the next generation. Ultimately, we have the demographic possibilities to steward the knowledge-based 21st century, but we have a lot of work to enable us to meet that potential.” – Dr Lydiah Kemunto Bosire.