Access to university funding is an ongoing issue for students in South Africa. The COVID-19 pandemic played a role in contributing to the burden, which has also caused some students to look to alternative ways of funding, since debt and student loans are not always within reach.
Debt repayment has also grown into a consistently pressing issue for South Africans, and recent figures by Stats SA indicate unemployment is at a record high of 34.9% in the third quarter. These figures are discouraging for young South Africans pursuing formal education, as high levels of debt and unemployment point to a lot of uncertainty.
A powerful solution to the problem has been crowdfunding; a way for students to reach out to communities for financial support. The internet and social media platforms have made it easier and faster for students seeking funding to gain access to communities who can support them.
“Crowdfunding is a way for students to raise funds for their university studies by connecting them to individuals and businesses who can make a financial contribution to their university fees. This form of fundraising has been a catalyst for meaningful change in the lives of thousands of students across the country,” says Leana de Beer, Founder and CEO of Feenix.
Student Dorian Basson says, “My campaign may have made a small dent in my student debt, but it really is what I have gained in the process which matters most. Feenix has ensured that I will be back next year armed with the knowledge and energy that will see my current debt halved by the end of 2022.”
“Since we launched the platform in 2017, we have managed to empower over 2300 students, by giving them access to over R112m in funding assistance. This support came from big corporates and small private donors, working professionals and young, newly graduated students who want to help students struggling to find alternative financial resources,” added De Beer.
Jeanne Sokoni, who graduated with her Bachelor of Medicine from Wits University last year, reflects on the support she received from communities on the Feenix platform: “When I was first notified about the donations to my Feenix account, I was filled with so much joy and appreciation. Feenix has truly made a difference in my life, and I value their support tremendously.”
“One of the greatest advantages of the platform is that students can take ownership of their future by actively promoting and sharing their profiles. The more active students, or their community, including friends and family are, the more likely they are to receive funding on the platform. This way, we are tapping into the spirit of Ubuntu, as we work towards democratising education,” concludes de Beer.