#KickTheDebt campaign aims to alleviate crippling effects of student debt in South Africa
Johannesburg - The #KickTheDebt initiative started as a small campaign to help alleviate the crippling effects of student debt in South Africa.
The campaign, launched by Converse, has had to double its pledge of R1 million to R2m due to the overwhelming response from those in need.
“Within two weeks we had almost 50000 entries so we decided to double the pledge. The campaign started on February 3 and the closing date has been extended to March 14,” said Bradley Knowles, group marketing executive at Converse.
The focus of the #KickTheDebt campaign is to try and alleviate a portion of the result of generational economic depression. It aims to make a difference as education is prohibitively expensive, and as a result, student debt is incredibly high.
Student debt is a prominent issue South African youth face, with an increasing need for it to be erased. Applicants can enter and access the #KickTheDebt nomination form on the Converse website, www.converse. co.za where friends and family will also be able to motivate for funds.
“The one thing I learnt with this campaign is this problem is even bigger than I thought it was. Any way we can try and spread this campaign, we can change lives. The application form is fairly straightforward. We ask for some details – the institution that they have debt with, the amounts of that debt, their marks. We want to favour the students who have applied themselves and are doing quite well. It goes into a vetting process because we need to be good stewards of this money and make sure it ends up in the right place,” said Knowles.
At the end of the nomination phase, Converse and a panel of independent judges will review the nominations and select the beneficiaries.
“Having a look at the debt that I have seen and the entries so far, it ranges from some students who owe R5 000 to some students who owe R100 000. As we go through the applications, we are announcing our first batch of recipients on Friday this week and that will continue up until the end of the campaign. Even if somebody is entering at the end of the campaign, there are still funds available to assist them. It’s not a rush, but we do encourage the applicants to get into the system now so we can start vetting and change their lives.”
As the applicants come in, the vetting process begins and those who meet the criteria get the help.
“A lot of these institutions are already asking for money. (The debt) It’s like a handbrake. You can’t get a job because you don’t have a degree. You can’t finish your degree because you can’t pay your funds. It is a vicious cycle of injustice and we are trying to help dissolve that.”
Knowles said Converse has always stood for a rebellious and daring spirit of youth.
“It makes sense to partner with the youth in this assistance. I hope it will become an annual initiative and corporates and other companies out there can start helping to kick the debt with Converse. ”