How I Raised a Million Rand to Fund my MBA

I’ve had so many messages of support from readers and friends throughout this MBA process and I appreciate all of it so much. Now, it’s pretty much official. I’ve resigned, paid the MBA deposit, sold my flat and am well on my way to beginning this journey.

It was a long road to get here, and the point of this post is to prove that it isn’t impossible for a South African to get into an international school and raise the required funding. I’m not excessively wealthy and don’t come from generations of family wealth. I earn a moderate salary and have a moderate lifestyle- financially, I’m not any different from most of the people I studied with. I haven’t saved a huge amount, but I have managed to raise the money I needed for the MBA, and if this post inspires one person to pursue their dreams then I’l be happy.

For a bit of background, read here for the reasons I wanted to do the MBA, and here for the process I went through to get accepted at INSEAD.

When it comes to saving, I’ve never been very good, always opting to use my money on short term gratification instead of an inanimate long term goal. I now wish I had built up a bit of a nest egg, but I did make a few decisions that have helped me hugely.

1- I bought a flat when I was 22, as soon as I could afford it, and paid 1.5x my bond repayment every month. Obviously this became easier when I moved in with Rishav and had a tenant move into my place. Because the bond repayment is a debit order, I was forced to make the payment and my bond account acted as “savings” in a way.

2- I didn’t purchase my car with a residual portion, and I opted to pay it off in the minimum amount of time of 3 years.

So the sale of both of the above have already given me a considerable amount of cash towards the sum I need. In addition, I’ve secured a partial scholarship from INSEAD as well as a loan from Prodigy Finance. Prodigy is a great organisation which uses funds from MBA alumni to fund new MBA grads from a few top schools. I only need to start repaying the cash 6 months after graduation. The rate isn’t great, but with SA banks refusing to lend towards international studies, and international banks not being willing to lend without a guarantor, my options were severely limited and I’m beyond thankful to have secured a loan.

I’m often asked about whether it freaks me out to sell all my assets and get into debt at this stage of my life, but I guess I see the MBA as a type of asset, and if I wasn’t doing this I probably would have ended up buying another car and a bigger house, which is debt anyway.

It’s going to be a HUGE adjustment to get used to a student lifestyle. We’ll spend 4 months in Singapore and then hopefully 6 months in Fontainebleau, France, which is 40 minutes out of Paris. (INSEAD has campuses in both locations with an option to switch campuses.) I’m worried about silly things like not being able to afford eating out and not being able to have regular manis and pedis. About downgrading from Crabtree & Evelyn/ The Body Shop to Nivea? Vaseline? Urgh. I’m worried about living in a strange apartment and not having my favourite frying pan and grater at my disposal. I’m worried about leaving all my friends and family behind and moving to a strange place with just Rishav. I’m worried that I’ll be done with the MBA and not have the career opportunities available to me that I hoped for. And what if we both find our dream jobs after the MBA but they’re in different locations?

I leave work in just over a month, and I need to study for and write Level 3 of CFA in early June, and then we’re off to the USA for 3 weeks. When we’re back, we’ll have a few weeks to pack up our house and put some stuff in storage, and then, we leave for Singapore on a 1 way ticket. We’re taking our cats with us- that process is as time consuming as ours, but I have to just take it all in my stride and hope that it works out. I got really excited when I read through the list of electives- check them out here.  I’m particularly keen on the ones that involve field trips to places like Silicon Valley.

Of course, I’ll carry on blogging and writing while I’m away. The blog will still maintain its style, I’ll just have new places to write about.

Here’s to a brand new adventure!

x H