Pilot Scholarship Impact Hub

Frank Odwesso Photo: Frank Odwesso

Pilot Scholarship Impact Hub

Scholarships can be an immense liberator from poverty, give personal success and social progression. Significant funds are invested supporting African scholarships by governments, foundation, corporates, NGOs and individuals. Scholarships are also cited as a key component to achieving the United Nations Strategic Development Goal (SDG 4).

Yet it can be difficult for scholarship providers to access potential scholars with the desired profile in a cost-effective way, and even harder for potential scholars to access the right scholarships. Many deserving students struggle to put together a range of scholarships to undertake and complete their courses. With a surging demand for university places these frustrations will amplify in the years ahead. 

It feels right, given the wide variety of contexts they serve, that there are multiple models for scholarship programmes. However, not all are evidence based or impact driven and there seems little visibility on the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) used to measure impact

Frequently, funds tend to be tactically deployed rather than strategically invested. For example, there is no ‘joining up’ in areas of key skills shortages due to very few effective mechanisms for sharing best practice or connecting stake-holders.

Our experience with learners, schools and universities in sub-Saharan African countries and scholarship providers suggests that there is an opportunity for Africa to ‘leapfrog’ global thinking and practice in this space.

With the Pilot Scholarship Impact Hub underway, ESSA’s role will help to turn this opportunity into a reality, focussing on what we believe is a major strategic issue for the Higher Education sector.  


Our goals

  • Increase impact on current spending, attracting more investment into scholarships in sub-Saharan Africa with the ultimate objective to improve educational outcomes 

  • Prove the model and produce an investment proposal for a major funder to help us take the pilot to scale and sustain it.

The pilot will focus on three concepts relating to Scholarships in sub-Saharan Africa:


“Prove the need and opportunity with hard evidence”

Our work will concentrate on under and post graduate scholarships. We will:

  • map the top 100 providers of scholarships for sub-Saharan Africa students.

  • contact the top 50 providers to look at their models in detail and identify their key success factors from scholarship selection to graduation and beyond. 

  • create a set of KPIs for an effective scholarship programme.

We want to produce hard compelling evidence to use to start developing practical ways to help change.


“Resources, Relationships and Credibility” 

Our aim is to create useful resources, build relationships and communities of interest in the scholarship space and establish the necessary credibility to mobilise and influence change. 

We will:

  • produce a set of scholarship impact metrics incorporating scholar, funder and deliverer success as well as effectiveness and social impact.

  • highlight examples of best practice, exemplars and key trends along with new thinking ideas. Early on, we aim to give scholars a “voice” and involve them actively in all we do.  

  • build a corporate community of interest as another important step. 

We will reinforce this with practical resources, including digital toolkits and learning resources for students, funders and deliverers at all stages of the process – from application, to study, to finding decent work as well as starting up or managing a scholarship programme.

Building the knowledge and capabilities to do this and delivering at small scale is an important step towards creating a sustainable Scholarship Impact Hub.


“Start to mobilise and change the discourse”

The early reactions to the idea of creating the Scholarship Impact Hub from a range of stakeholders have been highly encouraging. 

Through the pilot we want to initiate change and begin to alter the discourse with the evidence of best practice and the highest return models playing a central role in achieving this. Engaging currently fragmented groups will be another. We will produce a range of multi-way communications and opportunities for those in the space to engage on both strategic and operational issues.

This project perfectly aligns with our purpose to “Join up, inform. Inspire and increase impact for everyone investing in education outcomes in sub-Saharan Africa.”


The Schaufler Foundation
The Schaufler Foundation

The Schaufler Foundation was founded in 2005 by Senator h. c. Peter Schaufler (deceased), former CEO and owner of BITZER, with the aim to continue his life’s work of combining entrepreneurship with science, research, education and the arts.

In terms of science and research, the focus is on environment protection. In the field of education, the foundation supports a variety of universities in Germany and now, by working with ESSA, will expand its activities into Africa.  The Schaufler Foundation is a key funder of ESSA's Pilot Scholarship Impact Hub project.

The Schaufler Foundation also funds the Schauwerk Sindelfingen, a museum for contemporary art.  Since its opening in June 2010, the Schauwerk Sindelfingen has displayed a representative selection of over 3,500 works from the Schaufler collection, together with loans from other museums and collectors as part of its temporary exhibitions.

The Schaufler Foundation


Student Scholarship Survey

ESSA is conducting a survey of African students currently in receipt of a scholarship and also alumni who received a scholarship during the past five-seven years.  The survey takes no more than ten minutes to complete and will help us with our work on this project. 

Survey link