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By MOSES MUTUA

In his makeshift stall in Nairobi City's Kibra Constituency, Shadrach Ndemo Mongare, a 49-year-old father blessed with a family of three children, recounts his journey. His eldest son has completed his studies, the second is attending Laikipia University, and the youngest is in grade 6. Married to his beloved wife Sabina Nyaboke, who sells porridge in Kibra, Shadrach is deeply rooted in his faith as a devoted Christian. He actively serves as a deacon and chairs the Men's Adventist Fellowship at the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Additionally, he assists in coordinating the church choir.

Shadrach's entrepreneurial journey began as a tomato supplier in Toi Market, sourcing his produce from Kirinyaga County. After trying his hand at selling cloth, he eventually found success in vegetable vending. His stall offers a variety of produce, including cabbages, kale, bananas, and indigenous vegetables ("Mboga ya Kienyeji"). To meet the demands of his customers, he rises at 2:00 AM to procure fresh produce from Marikiti Market in Nairobi Town, sourced directly from upcountry farmers. Despite stiff competition, maintaining quality ensures customer retention and better sales. He has even hired assistants to accommodate customers who prefer pre-cut vegetables.

However, Shadrach faces challenges. The high cost of living and soaring fuel prices strain his business. Rising wholesale prices coupled with customers' reluctance to pay higher retail prices pose a dilemma. Additionally, extending credit to clients adds financial pressure, especially when repayments are delayed. Yet, Shadrach persists, driven by his desire to provide a better life and education for his children. He juggles financial commitments, including supporting his second born son doing nursing at Laikipia University and assisting his cousin's child with school fees.

Due to the change of the funding model by the government where they would pay for students fee it’s all different since a new government took over. In accordance with President William Ruto’s directive when he unveiled the new funding model on 3rd May 2023, students from the vulnerable and extremely needy households will receive 100% funding while the needy and less needy will

get 93% government funding and a paltry 7% contribution from their households to cover for the tuition fees. To effect this, the government has classified students seeking funding into four categories, the vulnerable, extremely needy, needy and less needy. The students joining private institutions too are eligible for the HELB loan and are encouraged to apply.

Funding across the four categories will be determined by evaluating family economic background to ensure that students from poor households are given priority in terms of scholarship allocation while those from less needy households are covered by loan financing from HELB as has been in the past. As much as it seems like its obvious to get the funding, we have seen student protest due to lack of HELB disbursement and even at times the government failing to cash out the fees on time.

Despite these challenges, Shadrach remains hopeful. He anticipates a reduction in living costs and prays for a successful harvest, bolstered by government subsidies on fertilizers. His story exemplifies resilience, community support, and unwavering faith in the face of adversity. Shadrach's journey serves as a source of inspiration and underscores the importance of perseverance and hope in pursuing a better future.

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