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Endowment funds provide a reliable way of financing varsities and needy students

The Chairman of the University of Embu Council Dr. Kennedy Okongo has said that although the endowment fund has not taken root in Kenya, the scheme provides a secure and valuable way of financing varsities and needy students in Kenya.

The Chair who spoke when the University of Embu endowment fund board of trustees was issuing out Sh. 2.6 million to support fee payment for 284 needy students from the university yesterday said that there is a need to sensitize Kenyans on endowment in order to support the country’s educational institutions and needy students.

“Endowment creates a sense of ownership and belonging among the various university stakeholders, thereby creating a need to maintain a stake in the reputation and development of the university,” said Okongo.

Endowment fund is simply a pool of assets invested by a university or learning institution to support its educational or research activities in perpetuity. It involves donations from individuals, financial institutions, alumni of the university as well as well-wishers to support academic and developments of the university or college.

While congratulating the university’s endowment fund board of trustees for steering the fund since its inception to the current status, Okongo said that it was an uphill task to convince the communities in the county to spare some of their wealth to invest in the university endowment since the culture of endowment in Kenya has not been understood or fully adopted.

Okongo said that the university endowment board of trustees is aiming to make the endowment fund a benchmark in Kenya since the culture has not been adopted in the country.

He added that with the goodwill from the County Government of Embu and the Government of Kenya, the institution is targeting to grow the University of Embu endowment fund to the levels of top international universities across the world.

University of Embu endowment fund board of trustees was constituted in 2018 after the launch of the fund by President Dr. William Ruto who then was the Deputy President of Kenya and former Embu Senator and 2022 Embu County gubernatorial aspirant Lenny Kivuti was appointed as the board of trustee’s Chair.

A seven-team member was constituted to serve as board of trustee’s members who included; Prof. P.L.O Lumumba, Mohamed Abdirahman Hassan, Titus Imbuyi, Dr. Kennedy Okongo, Dr. Evangeline Njoka, Paula Konttinen, Agnes Wanjuki Ndwiga and Lenny Kivuti who is the board of trustee’s Chairperson.

In his speech when the board of endowment fund was issuing out Sh 2.6 million to the 284 needy students, the endowment fund board of trustee’s Chair Lenny Kivuti said the fund has made notable milestones since its inception including the registration of the endowment fund with a trust deed.

“Our strategy for the future is to grow the fund to help many more students in need so that we can arrest the problem of wastage, especially when students have to drop out or quit their studies because of the inability to pay fees or even fund their upkeep in the university,” said Kivuti adding that the university aims to place the fund in the global arena.

He said that there is potential for the University of Embu endowment fund to be placed in the global arena with the likes of top universities in the world operating huge endowment funds like Harvard, Stanford and Cambridge among others.

Kivuti said that the university has to convince Kenyans that they can bequeath some of their wealth and it will be taken care of well for many generations to come.

The former Embu Senator disclosed that the University of Embu endowment fund board of trustees have been able to mobilize people to endow Sh. 40 million since the inception of the fund in 2018.

Kivuti said that the Board of trustees has lined up a series of activities including endowment fund marathon, endowment fund golf tournament and endowment fund gala dinner which the chief guest will be President Dr. William Ruto to help boost the fund.

University of Embu Vice Chancellor Prof. Daniel Mugendi said that the university always dedicates Sh. 2.5 million each financial year to support needy students in the university and that it also has a meal assistance program for the needy students where students who have challenges of getting meals are assisted to access meals through a meal voucher system supported by the students’ financial aid allocation.

The VC said that despite all the efforts put in place by the university, a number of students still encounter financial challenges and are left with no option but to call off their semester or academic year.

Mugendi underscored on the need to reach out to many individuals, institutions and donors to endow so that the fund can benefit more students in the assistance program. He called on the board of trustees to maintain a steady course of aggressive fundraising initiatives in order to pool more individuals to endow.

Embu Governor Ms. Cecily Mbarire said that her administration will ensure that it budgets for Sh. 5 million which the former County regime had pledged to endow to the university fund scheme but never fulfilled its pledge.

Mbarire said that the Sh. 5 million will be put in the 2023/2024 financial year and urged the members of the County Assembly of Embu to approve it once it is taken to the assembly so that she can honor her pledge to the university board of trustees.

By Justus Anzaya

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