Eduaid using loans for education as an investment for economic developmentWednesday, February 17, 2021
BY SHERDON COWAN
With education among the areas being reshaped by novel coronavirus pandemic, Christopher Emanuel, founder and president of Eduaid™ Jamaica Limited, says his new outfit is intent on playing a prominent role in the education sector, particularly where financing is concerned.
Emanuel, who has a passion for personal development, believes it is a key to elevating individual circumstances, and, as such, pointed to Eduaid Jamaica as part of his continued work to ensure the education system serves the people in a real way.
He revealed that the vision of having an entity like Eduaid was brought to fruition based on his own multifaceted experience as a one-time cash-strapped student, educator, entrepreneur and philanthropist.
Emanuel said the development of human capital is a national priority and it should be the endeavour of all, that no deserving student is denied opportunity to pursue this priority for want of financial support.
Though Eduaid is already doing business, Emanuel is expecting to be fully operational by the end of the second quarter of this year, with branches to be established in Kingston, Mandeville and Montego Bay.
“Loans for education should be seen as an investment for economic development and prosperity,” he argued.
“So, the emergence of Eduaid Jamaica can be viewed as an innovation in the shaping of a knowledge based economy with a focus on customer-oriented, digitally-driven educational financing,” Emanuel added.
The son of a dressmaker, Emanuel worked his way through the ranks of the education system as a teacher and owner of Dunrobin Christian Academy, where he noticed the flaws of the education system.
“The existing models for helping students, and especially needy students, through their studies were either outmoded or otherwise entirely inadequate. I figured there had to be a better way and before long, I was putting pen to paper to formulate the structure of what has become Eduaid Jamaica Limited, among other ideas,” he shared.
Emanuel, who has held senior executive, corporate and financial positions with private, government and international organisations, explained that Eduaid was incorporated under the laws of Jamaica since March 2008, primarily to execute the business of providing a “full portfolio of educational loans and complementary services”.
However, he decided to hold off as further research was needed.
“Overtime qualitative data were collected mainly through in-depth interviews, focus group discussions, in addition to reviews of existing schemes worldwide. Despite the poor performance of many of the existing schemes, the experience of the World Bank in support of student loan schemes reveals that it is possible to design and administer financially sustainable programmes if a number of basic conditions are respected,” he reasoned.
Having taken those conditions into consideration and evaluating the evolution of experiences with student loans institutions, Emanuel said he did further research around the prospect for future development and improvement of loan programmes with a view to expand coverage and improve efficiency.
The research, he said, convinced him that there is expanding market potential within this industry.
“Our aim is to improve access to education for students from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds, to influence student's choices for particular fields of study, alignment of loan conditionality with national strategic goals, as well as enhancing student enrolment, graduation and equity,” Emanuel shared.
He said that the entity when established will offer, among other things, tuition loans, which will incorporate additional matrix such as academic major, parent loans for preparatory, primary and secondary school and financing enabling institutions to affordably install or upgrade operations and service systems, as well as structured working capital support for educational institution, financial factoring, work programmes and career and placement services.
“The Eduaid model is interested in the realisation of maximum potential and development of the individual as a whole, rather than just as a borrower. We really envisage our contribution beyond the statistical and getting into human capital and labour skills development,” the financier stated, adding that the entity would benefit the sector and the economy by increasing student enrolment at the secondary and tertiary levels, streamlining receivables processing for institutions and unlocking economic growth potential by enabling quality research and continuing studies.
Emanuel is aware that funding will be required and as such has joined forces with Atlanta-based Vice-President Judith Richards to build and complete a consortium of investors and donors — internally and overseas — to enable the organisation to meet its goals.
Richards is looking at growing the Eduaid Foundation, a non-profit entity incorporated in Atlanta, which will be registered locally in short order.
“The objectives of the foundation are to bring awareness and create responsive initiatives to a broad range of individuals and students, whose academic pursuits are constrained by financial burdens, thus increasing access to educational opportunities in Jamaica,” Richards explained.
“Additionally, the foundation will identify and facilitate donors who have indicated their willingness to provide assistance and investment in research and development which is of great economic importance and substantial returns, and to source, distribute and utilise funds on a charitable basis for community development, while providing a framework for support of c orporate and private partners,” she ended.
Having already pleased the interest of some Jamaican philanthropists in the United States, Emanuel said the company will be eying the Jamaica Stock Exchange for the mobilisation of capital to facilitate the growth and development visualised.
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