5 CEOs Who Founded Companies With HELB Loans

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Over the years, Kenyan students have greatly depended on loans from the Higher Education Loans Board (HELB) to cover their tuition fees and essential expenses while attending universities.

In some cases, others delved into entrepreneurship from the savings as a side-hustle, and developed the idea into a successful company. 

Asides from earning an income while in school, the opportunity saves them from the struggle of seeking employment after graduation.

Kenyans.co.ke takes a look at five entrepreneurs whose success can be traced to the HELB loans they acquired while in school.

Photo of students lining up to submit their HELB details at Anniversary Towers in Nairobi County.

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Moses Muriithi Kihunii

While studying engineering at Kenyatta University, Moses Muriithi Kihunii did not envision that he would transition into the real estate business.

However, in his first year, he decided to use Ksh40,000 HELB loan to explore different markets to earn an income. Using the funds, he purchased an online writing account.

As a result, the then student was able to accrue profits for three years while in campus, and decided to purchase three parcels of land each year.

Upon graduation, the entrepreneur had several plots within the Nairobi metropolis to his name. From this, he registered a company, Fanaka Real Estate in 2015 – which seeks to help clients buy prime plots across the country.

MP John Gitonga

Manyatta MP John Gitonga Mukunji decided to venture into entrepreneurship after failing to secure internship during his third year of studies at the University of Nairobi.

He vowed never to seek employment and began exploring ways of venturing into business. Under the guidance of Chairperson of the Competency-Based Curriculum (CBC) Professor Raphael Munavu, who was one of his tutors, he used Ksh25,000 HELB loan to register his own company, ERS.

He began writing letter to companies in Nairobi with the promise of supplying affordable batteries by recycling old ones. 

To kickstart the process, he went around the country collecting the old used batteries across the country. 

He found a breakthrough when he got in touch with a Chinese representative who offered him a Ksh800,000 deal to supply the batteries.

The lawmaker used the amount to upscale his company and expand his scale to serve international companies. 

Dominic Odongo

What was regarded as an occasional visit in Mombasa for Dominic Odongo in 2010, turned out to be a fortunate outcome as it birthed his entrepreneurial journey.

He had visited his brother to help him run his second-hand clothes shop, an experience that came in handy. While in his second-year at at Egerton University, he decided to save two HELB loans to launch his own shop.

After saving Ksh100,000, he launched Dommy Collections at Digo road, Mombasa and majored on women clothing. Odongo, who studied Analytical Chemistry, makes an average of Ksh100,000 to Ksh150,000 monthly.

A photo of Kenyans waiting for service at HELB offices.

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HELB

Benmark Ng’ang’a

Benmark Ng’ang’a established a design and construction company while studying in his third year in 2015. At the time, he said that he found no need of tarmacking while looking for employment.

The entrepreneur used Ksh20,000 drawn from HELB loan to register Lifesize Design and Build Limited.  He began approaching potential clients with proposals for construction designs.

His work mostly entailed designing residential and commercial buildings. He did this, however, under the supervision of his lecturer who was a Registered Engineer.

At the time, Ng’ang’a sold the designs for between Ksh50,000 and Ksh150,000. At a past media interview, he revealed that his big break came when he received a sub-contract for the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) project. This enabled him to break even, three years after launch.

The entrepreneur said that balancing between work and studies was a tall order, but bore fruits in the end as he managed to create employment by hiring people into his company.

Seth Ombae

At the age of 24, Seth Ombae managed to open his own leather shoe business in Nairobi while using Ksh12,000 saved from HELB loan.

Ombae, who studied Bachelor of Science in Microprocessor Technology and instrumentation at the University of Nairobi, developed the idea owing to his passion in fashion. During his third year of studies, he decided to make his first show in search of an affordable leather shoe at various stalls.

This, however, became a breakthrough for his entrpreneurial journey as he found a niche for the product. As a result, he turned to his savings drawn from HELB and began to advertise his business across social platforms. 

His big break came when he received an order to make 300 pairs for one client, with one pair costing an average of Ksh2,500. 

He noted that he is always looking ways to create employment and expanding his production to handle big orders.



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