The fees funding crisis in South Africa has encouraged the creation of new ways of crowdfunding and connecting students and funders. After the recent launch of Feenix, The Daily Vox takes a look at two more platforms that are changing the funding landscape.
ThisÂ novel platform caters for grade 10 to 12 pupils and university students. It flips the traditional approach to finding bursaries, scholarships, and part-time work on its headÂ by creating a database of students that need funding, and allowing companies to set filters to find the type of candidate they want to fund.
Latie Ngoasheng, founder of Omenon, said the platform was created because he knows how difficult and costly it is for learners and students, especially in rural areas, to get access to information. â€œIt was hard for me to get a bursary. When I was in matric, every time I searched, I got the link and when I opened the application the closing date had passed,â€ he said. Omenon was designed to get rid of the administrative hassle for both students and companies looking for applicants. â€œSo I created a platform where companies can easily filter for who they want, whenever they want. We can get rid of closing dates and this thing where information is the key sector for students to get sponsorship.â€
A student or high school pupil creates a once-off profile on Omenonâ€
Importantly, they also put them in contact with other students that have received sponsorship from that company and are doing the same course at the same university. â€œThis is so that they can now assist each other. That way, theyâ€
The two-week old startup has 300 students on their database so far, but no companies have registered yet. â€œIâ€
The inclusion of high school students is also something different. Ngoasheng believes that including schoolchildren in the search for funding from an early age will encourage them to take school and their higher education prospects more seriously. He gave the example of a company encouraging a pupil to do well at school and offering to fund their higher education once they pass matric. â€œJust imagine the hope or impact that notification will have on that learnerâ€
This crowdfunding platform, launched in February 2016, was created in response to the issues raised by the Fees Must Fall movement in 2015. â€œItâ€
The platform Â is exclusively dedicated to raising funds for university tuition, but it is currently only open to second-year university students. Mpelepele said this because a lot of students tend to fail their first year after matric. â€œWhat we want to ensure is that at least the student has been able to go to second year, and if they need funding from there then we can come in and help. Itâ€
Second-year students at any South African university can register on their website. Students fill out an application form and upload the required documents – academic transcript, proof of registration and tuition invoice – and a profile picture and video message which personalises their story. Once the university has verified that this information is correct, BursaryNetwork creates a student profile for registered donors to view and contribute. The platform also has a forum where donors can interact with students. â€œIf they have questions for you, they are able to write to you,â€ said Mpelepele.
â€œWe do have companies that are registered and they contribute quite a lot, as well as individuals who can contribute as little as R100,â€ he said. To date, BursaryNetwork has raised R532 946 and has 538 donors. Students are given a 60-day period by BursaryNetwork to actively promote their profile to friends, family, and potential companies to get them to donate via social media and other platforms. But Mpelepele said that if you havenâ€
For donors to begin contributing, they can register for free on the website and donate a minimum of R100. BursaryNetwork charges an administration fee of 5% with every donation, which covers website hosting and banking charges.
BursaryNetwork deposits the funds directly into the student’s account at their respective university. â€œWe want ensure the money is used purely for purpose of education,â€ said Mpelepele.
Both Omenon and BursaryNetwork are still in their infancy, and available only online. Given the exorbitant cost of data in South Africa, platforms like these may not be accessible to all young people. But each is an important attempt at taking on the burden of high fees, and making it easier for those with the means to help to make contact with those in need. And more importantly, by involving high school students, networks like these take the conversation about access to opportunity beyond the confines of the university.