New Field Partner: Making education affordable in Somaliland with Abaarso

Kiva just launched a new partnership with the Abaarso School of Science and Technology in Somaliland! Through this partnership, Kiva lenders will be able to make loans to help students afford quality secondary education!

Somaliland is an incredibly poor region of Somalia. The education system is weak, school fees are high, and many bright students never have the opportunity to learn. In this challenging environment, Abaarso is determined to make change. Named for the small village where it is located, the school is built on donated loand and has traditionally been funded by its founder and individual grants. But as the program grows and improves, there's a dire need for more sources of funding. 

Since its founding in 2008, Abaarso has provided primary, secondary, tertiary and graduate-level education. But the heart of the operation is the secondary school -- a four-year boarding school that admits the brightest students in the country regardless of their ability to pay. The school offers comprehensive courses in the sciences and humanities, emphasizing interactive, hands-on learning techniques designed to propel its graduates to top-ranked universities around the world.

This is obviously an admirable pursuit, but Abaarso will need to be sustainable in order to continue offering need-blind admission and make a lasting difference in the region. The plan for this is to cross-subsidize tuition for poorer students with three revenue-generating initiatives: a primary school-level tutoring program, an undergraduate finance degree program, and an MBA program. These efforts have been somewhat successful, but the school is still struggling to provide scholarships to all who need them, and is still too reliant on external donors.

This is where Kiva comes in. Our partnership with Abaarso gives lenders the chance to provide partial tuition loans to brilliant high school students who could not otherwise afford education. By offering longer-term loans with repayment periods up to five years, Kiva will help the Abaarso School become more sustainable and serve a greater number of deserving, low-income students. This Kiva funding is enabling Abaarso to establish its first ever loan program, and give students and their families a choice of the best loans to fit their financial situations.

To approach this program as responsibly as possible, Kiva and Abaarso have emphasized involving students' families every step of the way. All loan contracts are executed by both the student and their parent or guardian. When possible, the student's clan leader is also involved -- helping to rally an entire community behind the student's academic success.

This is Sahra and her father Abdi. Sahra is a 17-year-old junior at Abaarso, and even though both of her parents are employed, they cannot afford to cover her tuition. Today, she is vice president of the student council and plays basketball. Her dream is to go to an American school to learn how to be a dentist. Why a dentist? Because there aren't many in her country, and she wants to return to be able to help people in her community. A Kiva loan of just $675 is helping ensure that she achieves this dream

Here at Kiva, we're so excited and proud to be able to offer innovative financial tools to future generations. Together, we can build a better world, one loan at a time.

WANT TO LEND TO AN ABAARSO STUDENT? CLICK HERE! (If you don't see any loans, that means's they're all funded for the time being -- but there will be more!)

Have questions about Kiva's partnership with Abaarso? Sens them our way at

About the author

Camille Ricketts

Camille brings her passion for storytelling to Kiva, where she helps create and curate online content. A longtime journalist, she started her career reporting on arts and culture for the Wall Street Journal in London and New York. In 2008, she joined San Francisco-based blog VentureBeat, writing about  green technology, policy and finance. Most recently, she worked in public relations for electric vehicle maker Tesla Motors. Outside of work, Camille volunteers as a web designer for maternal health nonprofit Saving Mothers. She holds a B.A. in women's history from Stanford University, where she also served as editor in chief of The Stanford Daily.