According to the latest figures released by Stats SA, South Africa’s unemployment rate jumped to a staggering 29% in the last quarter – the worst it’s been since 2008. The unemployment rate for the youth in particular is one of the highest in the world – currently sitting at 56.4%.
With all eyes on government to curb the growing unemployment rates, President Ramaphosa has remained steadfast in his call to corporates to absorb more of the youth into the workforce.
With the increased focus on how the country will lead the fourth industrial revolution on the continent, most notably in his last State of the Nation Address, Ramaphosa reaffirmed that skills and education was high on the new administration’s list of priorities.
The high-tech industry is set to be expanded, by making sure that legal and regulatory frameworks promote innovation, which in turn will scale up skills development for the youth. But, many young people still struggle to access the education and training required in areas of entrepreneurship and technology.
This creates a need for practical solutions. One innovative model to address this is the online crowd fundraising platform, Feenix, which has successfully been disrupting the EduTech space since 2017 through innovatively tackling the issue of access to education in the country.
Feenix Chief Operations Officer, Leana de Beer, says the crowdfunding platform seeks to create debt-free education and was co-created with students, as a digital space where businesses and individuals are able to donate funds for tertiary education. “As an online platform, Feenix is scalable and transparent in that only 5% of funds raised are used for administrative costs. This ensures 95% of the funds are strictly used for the funding of student education.”
The use of crowdfunding initiatives to close gaps in education are on the rise in other countries as well. In April, The Guardian reported that over 1000 schools in England have turned to crowdfunding and other online platforms with appeals for supplies as basic as pencils and glue. This comes after major budget cuts by government.
“To start the process, students need to register on the Feenix crowdfunding platform, upload their fee statements and define a funding goal,” she explains. “Once a student has registered, they are able to reach out to their communities, such as friends and family, individuals and businesses, who can all contribute to that student’s funding.”
Funders are then able to donate directly to a student they connect with or to the Feenix Pool Fund. “By connecting students to individuals and businesses, we are creating a sustainable education funding model for South Africa,” she adds. “Feenix offers a host of benefits to corporate and individual donors. For instance, all bona fide donations are tax deductible.”
Apart from securing funds, Feenix could also create potential long-term employment opportunities for students by connecting graduates with businesses upon request.
“Through the matchmaking process, donors can identify students they want to donate to. Even though all communication between students and donors are facilitated through Feenix, donors can receive progress reports of the students they funded. After graduation, should the corporate donor wish to get in touch with the student with regards to employment opportunities, this can be arranged through Feenix,” de Beer says.
Feenix continues to be in line with ground-breaking innovation within the EduTech space, by providing a digital solution for access to higher education and skills.