alexa Helb targets micro payments of student funds in deal with telcos - Daily Nation

Helb targets micro payments of student funds in deal with telcos

Wednesday January 15 2020

HELB offices in Nairobi

Student loan applicants at the HELB offices in Nairobi. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

GITONGA MARETE
By GITONGA MARETE
More by this Author

The Higher Education Loans Board (Helb) is seeking to partner with telcos like Safaricom #ticker:SCOM , Airtel and Telkom Kenya to enable mobile payments amid concerns over high default rate.

The agency, whose mandate is to source for funds and provide loans, scholarships and bursaries to Kenyans studying in institutions of higher learning, yesterday invited telcos to bid for the provision of a mobile payments platform.

The agency said the move is aimed at increasing the convenience and efficiency of its services through the automation and digitisation exercise.

“The board wishes to explore the option of a mobile smart payment solution for the disbursement of student loans, bursaries and scholarships to institutions of higher learning,” said Helb chief executive Charles Ringera in a bid notice.

“The board invites interested telcos to submit their Expression of Interest for the provision of the mobile smart payment solution,” reads part of the notice.

The Helb joins other State agencies, which have tapped mobile digital platforms to enable users to remit their contributions.

Advertisement

They include the National Social Security Fund and the National Hospital Insurance Fund.

The Helb is supposed to be a revolving fund in which beneficiaries — mostly students from low-income households — who have completed their studies pay back the loans to support a fresh group of students. But the agency has been marred by defaults.

The Helb recently said it is pursuing some 78,328 loan defaulters holding Sh7.7 billion as of December 31.

The past beneficiaries have not responded despite frequent threats of prosecution, credit bureau listings and use of specialised debt recovery agents.