Nigeria has long been recognized for its pool of talented and ambitious students seeking educational opportunities abroad. However, the path to studying overseas can often be fraught with financial hurdles that deter many aspiring scholars. Recognizing this challenge, Nigerian financial institutions have stepped up to support students by offering tailored financial services specifically designed to assist them in their pursuit of international education.
This is primarily because studying abroad can be a life-changing experience, opening doors to new knowledge, cultural enrichment, and a broader worldview. However, the financial aspect of this endeavour can be overwhelming, with expenses including tuition fees, accommodation, travel, and living costs. For many students and their families, accessing the necessary funds to embark on this journey can seem like an insurmountable obstacle.
An annual survey exploring Nigerian students’ perceptions of studying abroad and the main motivations for their decisions about where to study finds that as many as 9 in 10 Nigerians are interested in pursuing a university degree with a foreign institution.
The Nigeria Market Sentiment & Study Motivations Report produced by a consortium comprising the University of Sussex, The Student Coach, BUILA Africa, Culture Intelligence from RED and Vive Africa, and it is based on a survey of roughly 4,100 Nigerian students as well as on supplementary research. Showed that two-thirds of surveyed students were interested in undergraduate studies, and a third were looking for graduate programmes. The study was conducted in July through September 2021 across various regions in Nigeria.
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The UK, US, Canada, Germany, and Australia are the preferred host countries for surveyed Nigerian students. However, even more survey respondents indicated a preference for distance learning (46.6%) than in-person learning abroad (40.6%), perhaps as a result of financial constraints.
Most students indicated that they would prefer to pay their tuition in instalments and they look carefully at whether scholarships are available. The report emphasises that affordability remains a major issue for Nigerian students and says that this is a significant reason that many have chosen to study in China or Germany over more expensive English-speaking destinations. The report said “Universities need to innovate around providing suitable tuition payment terms and scholarship opportunities, especially for students of African origin whose economic status may not be as buoyant as that of students from other continents.”
The government’s devaluation of the naira – brought on by falling oil prices during the pandemic – has had a significant impact on Nigerians, causing inflation and reducing consumers’ purchasing power.
However, across the country, Sheds Financials – an indigenous financial service firm based in Lagos- hopes to shatter this barrier by providing a range of financial solutions specifically tailored to the needs of students aspiring to study overseas. Through their dedicated services, the firm seeks to empower students, ensuring that financial constraints do not hinder their dreams of acquiring a quality international education.
One of the key offerings from Sheds Financials is their student loan programme. Understanding the financial strain that studying abroad can impose; the firm provides flexible loan options with competitive interest rates, helping students secure the necessary funds to cover their educational expenses. By easing the financial burden, Sheds Financials enables students to focus on their studies and maximize their potential.
According to Israel Atoe, MD/CEO of Sheds Financials, the company goes beyond just providing loans. “We offer personalized financial advice and guidance to students, ensuring they make informed decisions regarding their finances. The firm’s experienced professionals understand the nuances of studying overseas and are well-equipped to offer tailored advice on managing expenses, budgeting, and building a strong financial foundation while abroad,” he said.
In addition to student loans and financial guidance, Sheds Financials also assists students in managing their foreign currency transactions. With their foreign exchange services, students can efficiently and securely convert their Nigerian currency into the currency of their destination country, minimizing the risk of fluctuating exchange rates and maximizing the value of their funds.
“Sheds Financials understands the unique challenges that Nigerian students face in their pursuit of an international education.” Atoe said. “The impact of Sheds Financials’ initiatives extends far beyond individual students. As more Nigerian students receive financial support for studying abroad, the country benefits from their enhanced skills, knowledge, and global perspectives upon their return. This ultimately contributes to Nigeria’s development, fostering a generation of leaders, innovators, and change-makers.”
The Group Chairman of the company, Simon Adozi, also said that Shed Financials is aiming to bridge the gap for Nigeria’s unbanked population. “In a country where over 40% of the population lacks access to basic banking services, Sheds Financials has emerged as a beacon of hope. We have taken on the noble mission of providing protective financial services and solutions to Nigeria’s unbanked population.”
With a dedicated focus on the rural communities that are often overlooked, Sheds Financials aims to empower individuals and small businesses with access to essential financial tools.
Nigeria has long grappled with the challenge of financial inclusion. Despite being one of the largest economies in Africa, a significant portion of its citizens remains outside the formal banking system. Recognizing this pressing issue, Sheds Financials has made it their mission to bridge this gap and bring financial services closer to the people who need them the most.
“At the heart of Sheds Financials’ operations lies a commitment to providing tailored financial services that address the unique needs of their customers. Whether it’s facilitating deposits, offering investment opportunities, providing quick personal loans, or offering sound financial advice to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the firm ensures a comprehensive range of products and services to cater to diverse requirements,” Adozi said.
He explained that the team at Sheds Financials comprises seasoned professionals who bring a wealth of experience to the table and added that they are dedicated to delivering quality and reliable financial services, instilling confidence in their customers and fostering a sense of trust.
Data from the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics show that the unbanked population often faces numerous challenges in their daily lives. Limited access to credit, inability to save securely, and a lack of financial guidance are just a few of the obstacles they encounter.
But James Ida, the Head of Brand Sales and Strategy said Sheds Financials seeks to address these issues head-on by offering a wide range of services that promote financial inclusion. By extending their reach to rural communities and the unbanked, the firm hopes to uplift individuals and create opportunities for economic growth.
“We are confident in their ability to bridge the gap between Nigeria’s unbanked population and essential financial services. Through our unwavering dedication, we aim to reshape the financial landscape and empower individuals with the tools they need to build a brighter future,” Ida said.
With Nigeria’s unbanked population finally finding a reliable partner in Sheds Financials, the prospects for financial inclusion in the country are looking up. As this financial service firm continues to make strides, it brings hope for a more prosperous and inclusive future, one where every Nigerian has access to the financial services they deserve.
Nigeria remains a promising market for foreign institutions, but financial considerations are top of mind for students and without funding assistance, many Nigerians may not be able to study abroad in the near term.
Victor Okeke writes from Lagos
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