Itumeleng Legoete
Johannesburg - Itumeleng Legoete is one of many students who has used online crowdfunding to raise money for their university fees. He raised more than R150000 after being unable to access bursaries or loans through traditional channels.

Legoete, an LLB final-year student, in 2017 received R157040.19 and was able to graduate debt-free from Wits University through the Feenix platform. Now Legoete is working as a candidate legal practitioner and is back on the platform as a funder through Pay It Forward. Through this platform, Legoete has been making monthly contributions towards a student he connected with on the platform since June 2019.

“I consider it proper to help lift another student from their inability to fund their education by paying it forward,” said Legoete.

Linathi Nkonyeni, a fourth-year music student at Nelson Mandela University, was fully funded in 2018 after receiving a donation of R61656 to settle her national diploma fees through Feenix.

“I would like to say that this wonderful donation from my community would mean I get to continue with my studies, graduate and make a difference in my life while helping others to also invest in their education,” said Nkonyeni.

Another student who successfully used online crowdfunding is Nokuthula Maduma, a Bachelor of Accounting Science student at Wits. Maduma shared her profile with friends and family via Twitter and email. She then encouraged her followers to retweet and donate.

Maduma said within a couple of weeks she was able to raise money.

In the span of a couple of months, with the combination of her resilience and persistent fund-raising skills, she was able to reach her goal of R62545.

Mabel Mnensa, marketing manager at Feenix, said their platform was suited to students with a combined household income of under R600000 a year. “Once registered, the students can tap into their own community as well as into our network of donors who can assist them in reaching their fund-raising goal.

“We ask that students not lose sight of the fact that when we work together we can tackle the lack of access to tertiary funding.

“Feenix aims to bridge the gap between students and funders through our platform, so we reduce the heavy burden a lack of funding places on students.

“We believe that access to education should not be dependent on wealth, and the R30.6million raised on our platform thus far proves that South Africans are giving in nature and share this belief,” said Mnensa.

Backabuddy is another online crowdfunding platform helping students to get ahead when the traditional methods of raising university fees has failed them.

Patrick Schofield, chief executive at Backabuddy, said in 2019 they hosted more 700 campaigns for students 200 of whom raised funds towards their studies.

“Building a community of supporters is probably the most powerful outcome. If a student provides good evidence of success to donors, those same donors are likely to provide further support in the future,” he said.

The Sunday Independent