Kenyan Banker mulls turning college into university

About twenty two years ago, Francis Onyambu, a banker left his lucrative job as an accountant at Sarova Hotels to start lecturing accountancy courses in various Nairobi-based colleges.

His decision was a surprise to many of his friends and colleagues who believed he had better opportunity to prosper in banking arguing that it is the most treasured employment opportunity which anyone could dream about.

“I do not regret at all because the decision I took is what has made me whom I am today. Perhaps if I would not have taken that decision, my story would be irrelevant because it would not make a story for me and others,” he told Money.

After years of spirited efforts, Mr Onyambu is today the director of Intra-Global Training Institute, a middle level college which has about 2,500 student population taking various courses in finance.

“At the beginning, I had five employees only. The number of workers kept on growing as the student numbers increased, too. I grew fast because I got the support from many students who were taking accountancy in Nairobi whom I had lectured as a part-time lecturer before. I was sure that the number would grow because I had been pushed into my decision by the same students because they wanted more attention,” he says.

Within a few months of his service in the industry, the number of students enrolling in his school rose from the pioneer group of 27 to 100.

The increase, he says, encouraged him to work hard. Two years later, the total number of students surpassed 300 mark.

“I am pleased to be part and parcel of the education stakeholders providing students with an alternative to higher education so that their careers can be build. Most of these students would have no option if such colleges did not exist.

“Besides, I have employed over 100 staff each earning an average salary of Sh30,000 per month. These are people with dependants and I believe my decision is a blessing to many”, he said.

To net more income and spread his initiative, the businessman has created a network of his college brand.

In Nairobi, the institution boasts of three branches. The others are in Kisumu, Nakuru, Embu and Kisii towns.

“Recently, we managed to open a new branch in Gilgil. The opening of the branch was as a result of demand from locals. Our mission is to open many branches countrywide and more so, to be represented in all 47 counties,” adds Mr Onyambu.

He says currently plans are at an advanced stage for the ministry of Higher Education to accredit his college to become a fully-fledged university in Athi River where the investment acquired land a few years ago for the proposed institution of higher learning.

From his experience Mr Onyambu notes that when venturing into the business one of the major challenges that many investors face is getting startup capital.

It’s also difficult hiring experienced lecturers, especially in colleges since many tutors prefer being employed on part-time basis, he says.

“But for me, I hate to employ lecturers on part-time because they always let you down by failing to turn up for classrooms as required — a trend which demoralises students,” he says.

He also criticises universities which offer low-end qualifications, say, diplomas and certificates.

I believe there must be a bridge between the two because if universities are allowed to offer what colleges teach, then we are headed for a major disaster.

Many colleges will close and the universities will not be able to accommodate the surging number of students willing to join colleges annually,” he says.

Mr Onyambu is banking on the success of revival of the East African Community where he wants his college to be represented.

Some of the countries in which intend to invest in include, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and South Sudan.-Nation



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