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Feenix crowdfunding raise R110 million to help students across South Africa

Feenix crowdfunding platform aims to make education available to all, regardless of economic status or wealth. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng

Feenix crowdfunding platform aims to make education available to all, regardless of economic status or wealth. Picture: Motshwari Mofokeng

Published Mar 22, 2022

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With over R110 million raised to date to secure the education of more than 2330 students across South Africa, the Feenix crowdfunding platform established by Standard Bank has provided an effective model to help fund education in South Africa.

Feenix crowdfunding platform aims to make education available to all, regardless of economic status or wealth. Currently, Standard Bank acts as the financier of the initiative, providing financial support and guidance while the Feenix team develops a self-sustaining model. Standard Bank has also linked its UCount Rewards programme to Feenix, allowing customers to use their rewards to fund a student.

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“The dissatisfaction with accessibility and the high cost of quality education raised during the Fees Must Fall movement in 2015 has not disappeared and cannot be left to the Government alone to address,” said Ben Pretorius, Head Education Sector at Standard Bank.

The latest report on Higher Education and Skills from Statistics South Africa found that more than half (51%) of South Africa’s youth aged between 18 and 24 did not have the financial means to pay for their tuition. Only 33,8% of youth were attending educational institutions. Among those, 22,2% were attending college on a full-time basis, while 11,6% were attending post-school educational institutions.

Standard Bank has identified education as one of the 10 ecosystems in which the bank can make a meaningful contribution to development by leveraging innovation. Education is one of the most important determinants of an individual’s success and a key driver of positive life outcomes.This is especially relevant in South Africa, where youth illiteracy and unemployment remain persistently high.

In 2017 Standard Bank partnered with the Feenix initiative to address the tertiary debt crisis by developing an online crowd-funding platform that connects students and funders. Feenix effectively provides a tool for students to formalise their fundraising efforts and a channel for funders to find students to support.

“By making donations from different communities, individuals or organisations visible on a single platform, we are able to transparently show exactly where and how their money is being spent, while also allowing supporters to donate towards specific students,” said Pretorius.

Better educated people achieve higher standards of living, enjoy better health, and are less affected by the gender wage gap. Higher education levels also have a measurable positive impact on a country’s ability to sustain growth and broaden economic inclusion.

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Of the R110 million in funds received through Feenix to date, more than R34 million has gone to students studying science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) degrees. These skills are vital in reducing South Africa’s primary commodity dependence while elevating our economy onto a more inclusive, higher earning, knowledge and service growth track.

Pretorius said the success of this platform is driven by transparency.

“Allowing donors to see who their donation is going to and what it’s being used for, encourages corporates and individuals alike to support education.”

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