File image: IOL.

CAPE TOWN - The crowdfunding initiative supported by Standard Bank, Feenix.org has raised an additional R1m for deserving tertiary-level students, raising its funding to R2m. 

The initiative, founded in July this year tries to address the lack of funding for tertiary-level education in South Africa. This call has been followed by #FeesMustFall student protests across the country, calling for government to reduce the fees of tertiary education. 

By reaching a R2m mark in its second month of crowdfunding, the initiative is assisting a number of young adults on their educational journey. “We are thrilled with Feenix.org’s progress thus far", says CEO of the Feenix Trust and Head of the Standard Bank Incubator, Jayshree Naidoo. 

“Such success shows what we at Standard Bank have known all along; South Africans care about the future of this country, and are willing to work together to achieve a brighter one to the benefit of all. In partnership with Standard Bank, Feenix.org is the vehicle that will encourage this to happen". The initiative was created as a means for the youth to access tertiary education, to improve their employability and contribute to the economic growth of South Africa. 

READ ALSO: Feenix.org raises R1 million in the first month of operation

Feenix.org, provides a digital channel whereby individuals and enterprises can access to securely donate money to students. The platform is designed in a manner so that all funds donated towards a student’s profile are paid directly to their university, ensuring that every donation is used for its intended purpose.

To date, 925 students are represented on the platform from 24 of 26 of South Africa’s universities.  Of those, 31 have had their studies fully funded by donors. Currently, Feenix.org  hosts 639 funders, 54 of them being businesses.

According to Feenix.org's records, the most popular faculties to support are the sciences and engineering, with medicine receiving the biggest donation. One success story features an occupational therapy student, Hirome. 

Hirome grew up in Worcester and incurred financial as well as familial hardship, being orphaned at the age of five. At the age of 15, his fate however changed when he was placed under foster care by one of his teachers.  Despite finding a home and a family, Hirome battled to fund his fees at the University of the Western Cape. 

The family turned to NSFAS, but was rejected for falling into the “missing middle”, these are students who are "too rich" to qualify for NSFAS support, but too poor to afford fees and qualify for commercial loans. 

REAL LIFE STORIES 

Hirome was then recommended to Feenix.org by a friend and his studies as an occupational therapy student has been funded.  “I want to enable the unable, help people achieve independence, and simply because I love working with people and making lasting change in their lives”, says Hirome. 

Feenix.org also helped fund Nicholas, a Bcom student from the University of Pretoria.  He comes from a family where both parents are unemployed.  Although his studies has been funded by NSFAS for the past three years, he could not fully settle his debt.

With the assistance of Feenix.org, Nicholas can now afford his university fees and will be starting an internship with PwC South Africa in 2019.  “Your donation changed my life and you are part of my success story", he says to his funders. “I thank you. Ek dank u. Ngiyabonga". 

Standard Bank has undertaken to be the financier and go-to-market partner of the Feenix.org Trust, which has been established to retain and manage funds from donors. It has committed to the project for 36 months, or until it is self-sustaining.
 
“As a proudly digital bank and one that is committed to progress on the continent, we see it as our responsibility to improve access to education,” says Ms Naidoo. “Crowd sourcing is a viable solution to boosting educational funding channels, with evidence of this seen in the increasing number of students who receive funding each month.”

Feenix has further been recognised as a nominee in the Efma-Accenture Distribution & Marketing Innovations (DMI) Awards 2017 taking place in Rome in October. 

The platform has been nominated in the top 6 of the New Business Ecosystems category at a global level. Significantly, corporates can also donate from their skills development or CSI budget and will receive a Section 18A tax certificate. 

It also counts towards improving B-BBEE scorecards.

- BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE