When Ighodaro Omoigui wanted to get an MBA degree from the top-ranked business school INSEAD, he could not get a loan from local banks in Nigeria.
So he turned instead to Prodigy Finance, an innovative financing platform that lets MBAs crowdfund their tuition from business school alumni.
After Ighodaro graduated from the INSEAD MBA in 2013, he landed a job at the consultancy firm Bain & Company in South Africa. Now, he works at the World Bank in Washington DC.
We asked Ighodaro why other MBAs should consider Prodigy Finance. Here's what he told us:
How has Prodigy Finance helped change your life for the better?
I was determined to advance my career and increase my exposure through business school, but I was constrained by the absence of credit support prevalent in Nigeria for this kind of endeavour. I thank God for this financing channel, and can confidently say that the business school experience has created attractive career opportunities for me. For young professionals from places like Nigeria, the impact of this financing channel is really significant.
What career opportunities has Prodigy Finance opened up for you?
I was looking to re-launch my career through business school and was targeting private equity and consulting. Through the MBA program, I got an internship in private equity during the summer, and then joined Bain & Company in South Africa full-time. My expectations of the MBA program were in some ways exceeded, and Prodigy Finance made my dream to attend business school become a reality.
What is the perceived value of an INSEAD MBA degree in Africa?
The INSEAD MBA degree is placed at a premium by international firms that have African operations. The MBA is increasing in influence. INSEAD is a strong global brand, and this was bolstered further by its recent top ranking by the Financial Times. In addition, the INSEAD alumni network is growing strongly in both South Africa and Nigeria, which is increasing brand awareness and recognition.
What engagement did you have with the alumni who funded your degree?
I actually didn’t have engagement with the alumni that funded my degree. In spite of this, I felt inspired by the fact that I was being funded by people who had walked the same road as me some years before. Alumni understand the challenges of funding an MBA degree, and the different backgrounds which translate to different levels of access to finance.
What was your experience like on the MBA at INSEAD?
The INSEAD experience was very memorable and indeed a definitive year in my life. The experience of being in a setting with students from across the globe gave me a deep appreciation of how diverse, and at the same time how similar, we all are.
INSEAD was a fun school which had lots of celebrations and team-building events. I also had a rather steep learning curve on subjects of interest including private equity, project finance and emerging markets. INSEAD also gave me the opportunity to re-launch my career into strategy consulting in Africa.
Would you have been able to fund your MBA without Prodigy Finance?
No! During my admissions process, I had approached other financing platforms including local and foreign commercial banks for a student loan and had no success. The foreign banks were requesting a foreign-based guarantor, which I didn’t have. And the local banks expected significant collateral to cover the fees.
I had some savings, but it was far from sufficient to cover the costs. As I mentioned earlier, in Nigeria, there were no financing alternatives that were near viable and so I would not have been able to secure my admission without Prodigy Finance’s support.
Why should other MBAs consider Prodigy Finance?
I have remained a vocal champion of Prodigy Finance because I realize how instrumental it was to making my business school studies a reality. Prodigy Finance is willing to take more risk on professionals from developing markets and recognizes that such aspiring people often have good character and commitment, and can meet the loan commitments, even though they lack the standard collateral or guarantors that other financiers ask for.
The loan application process is rather straightforward. And compared with the rates that were expected of commercial banks, Prodigy Finance’s pricing was reasonable and fair. And I also think that Prodigy Finance provides good support for repayment, with a reasonable grace period.