Spirit of giving is helping ‘missing middle’ students

Tax breaks are available for SA companies willing to help equip young people become work-ready. 

Corporate South Africa and individuals are making a positive difference to the country’s student funding crisis, by sponsoring tertiary studies and offering workplace learning.

In the two years since they started operating, the crowdfunding platform Feenix says it has been able to raise in excess of R25m which was used to support 900 students.

“We currently have 117 corporate donors and 1,139 individual donors,” says Leana de Beer, chief operating officer at Feenix.

The platform was born out of the #FeesMustFall movement of 2015 and 2016, and aims at helping the “missing middle” – those who do not have access to the R111.2bn allocated by government for free education.

This applies to students from families whose household income is considered too high to qualify for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) funding but too low to qualify for a student loan. The threshold is those with a combined household income of less than R600,000 per year.

De Beer says that over half a million youth require funding to pursue tertiary education in order to gain the skills necessary to obtain employment, and South Africa’s “missing middle” constitutes 40% of these youth.

Encouraging more businesses to contribute to student funding, De Beer says “business leaders can create much-needed change, especially in areas where most people continue to rely on assistance from government. These are the communities their employees are part of.”

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