On 20 June, we announced our key support of a powerful new crowdfunding initiative that will significantly enhance access to tertiary education for students countrywide – Feenix.org.
As a proudly digital bank with a history of making a difference, we’ve undertaken to be the financier, enabler and go-to-market partner of the Feenix Trust, an organisation that allows individuals and enterprises to donate money to universities on behalf of poor and “missing middle” students, those who should be assisted by government and other interventions, but have fallen through the cracks. All degree types for accredited courses at any of the 26 public universities throughout South Africa are currently accepted, with plans to extend the service to students studying at other tertiary and higher learning institutions.
We are committed to this life-changing project for 36 months, or until it’s self-sustaining, covering the set-up costs and committing to whatever shortfall there is between the total operating costs and the income received from the admin fee charged to funders.
According to Jayshree Naidoo, Interim CEO of the Feenix Trust, Feenix.org is part of our multifaceted strategy to develop meaningful, practical and sustainable ways to help the youth access quality education by removing some of their financial burden, and ultimately contributing to South Africa’s economic growth. Feenix distributes the responsibility of funding as widely as possible, making the process as direct and easy as possible.
Feenix.org’s simple signup process allows students to register their financial needs for the current year. The platform exposes written or video student profiles to a variety of funding sources. Ordinary South Africans wishing to fund a student’s fees can search for individual students on the platform and pay the whole year’s fee, or a portion of their fees. Corporates can donate to the pool, which is allocated to students in accordance with the B-BBEE charter.
For security’s sake, the platform on which Feenix.org is built keeps track of students over time and provides detailed analytics in annual reports. It also enables all financial activity through the site, and allows for a full financial audit to be performed at any time if any irregularity is suspected. All funds are managed by Standard Trust Limited, the corporate trustee and a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Standard Bank Group. These funds are paid directly to the universities, so there is no opportunity for students or funders to withdraw funds to use for anything other than their intended purpose.
“The aim is to bring in new and underexploited sources of funding from individuals and the private sector, and we challenge everyone across the country to get more involved and join us as we embark on this exciting journey to uplifting education,” says Ms Naidoo. “No cause could be more important right now. As a bank that cares about our youth and improving access to education, we support solutions that innovate and take South Africa forward.”