Bhonsle says, "We are on a mission to make Indian students Atmanirbhar”
NEW DELHI, Mar 1 (The CONNECT) - To bridge the gap between aspirations of talented Indian students and reality, student loan fintech platform Kuhoo - named after the sweet sound of the bird Cuckoo – has some pleasant news.
The brainchild of a former ICICI, HDFC Credila & InCred executive, and a banking veteran Prashant A Bhonsle, Kuhoo, has raised a whopping $ 20 million seed fund from West Bridge Capital.
Kuhoo, the cutting-edge digital platform aims to provide online loans to students aspiring to study in universities both in India and abroad. Kuhoo is the first student loan provider to offer products across various streams like engineering, MBA, executive education, online courses, coaching classes, and even new age courses.
Bhonsle, also regarded as the Indian student loan industry pioneer, said, "We are on a mission to make Indian students Atmanirbhar. In our cumulative experience of over 30 years in lending to Indian students, we have observed that many talented students do not apply to good universities because they worry about burdening their parents with high costs of fees & living expenses. We want to change this.”
At Kuhoo, he said, “we combine our vast experience with advanced technology & data science to create risk and credit models.”
These models help Kuhoo evaluate students' potential employability and future incomes for various courses students enrol in. With this unique ability, Kuhoo can offer different products best suited to individual profiles of students from varied family backgrounds. The other - usually underrated - benefit to the students will be that this loan will help them build credit history while studying, he explained.
Kuhoo has onboard experienced global talents from across technology, data science, consumer, and student lending domains. Besides launching their innovative products, Kuhoo will be partnering with banks and other NBFCs along with top colleges and coaching centres across the world. Bhonsle said, "As a fully online student lender, we wish to give the most dignified experience to students, parents, universities, and all our partners. We are also planning to use our expertise in assisting students to find their best-fit universities, courses, and even jobs after they complete their education."
Higher education is still inaccessible for many talented students from humble backgrounds, especially in smaller cities. The gap between the increasing cost of education and affordability has only widened, forcing students to give up on their dreams. Kuhoo intends to fill this gap and create products primarily based on their academic backgrounds, college, course rankings, and career prospects.
Deepak Ramineedi, Partner, West Bridge Capital, said, "We have closely followed the Indian education sector for over a decade now. With the rising costs of education, we believe that India needs loan providers who comprehensively understand the problems of students, parents, and academic institutes. Assessing future employability and income of students are two of the biggest challenges for existing banks and NBFCs that are offering student loans. We are glad that we have found the right entrepreneur in Prashant. Other than his experience in creating one of the most successful student lending companies in India, we like his vision of using technology & analytics to build an online business model. In addition, Prashant's passion for organisational culture and creating impact aligns with West Bridge's core values. We are excited to partner with kuhoo and wish the talented team all the very best."
Kuhoo has expertise in assessing employability and future incomes for hundreds of thousands of courses. Lack of this skill is the biggest challenge for existing lenders. At Kuhoo, a team of domain experts and a dedicated research and data analytics wing will work closely with students and institutions to map career progression post different education courses.
Sumir Chadha, Co-founder & Managing Director of West Bridge Capital Partners, added, "During the last few decades, only a tiny percentage of the talented Indian students got a chance to pursue their dreams of higher education in the universities abroad. While that will continue to grow, the emerging world order and India's economic growth offer students many career opportunities. Additionally, the Indian government's policy push of creating high-quality education institutes and the Edtech revolution of recent years have opened attractive avenues for young Indian students.”
Kuhoo is also one of the names for goddess Lakshmi – the deity of wealth, success, and good fortune. Thus, the name represents the company's larger vision of enabling students to take responsibility for their higher education and help their parents save hard-earned money for their retirement.