While marching to the Union Buildings with thousands of fellow #FeesMustFall protesters, Phiwa Nkambule had the idea to start a social initiative to address the problem of access to tuition funds.

EduFund is a crowdfunding website where tertiary students needing financial assistance with their study costs can launch a campaign asking for the amount of money they need.Nkambule’s company, Cybatar, the same one that created the FillApp petrol app, is behind the initiative.

“We started the fund mainly out of concern. I have been involved in SASCO since 2011 and understand the struggles that students go through at the beginning of the year when they have to register and throughout the rest of year,” Nkambule told htxt.africa. I also have a lot of friends who had to go back home because of lack of funding.”

“I was at the Union Buildings in solidarity with the #FeesMustFall students when President Zuma made his announcement and I realised that students from working middle class backgrounds, who don’t qualify for NSFAS but can’t afford all costs were still in trouble,” he added.

Backers can contribute funds from wherever they are in the world, students from private and public institutions are welcome to apply for all costs connected to their tuition and living expenses while still studying.

To verify that students applying for financial help really are in need and are not taking anyone for a ride, they have to support their case by submitting applications for NSFAS, whether accepted or not, or letters from their university notifying them of the discontinuation of their studies due to debt.

Like a normal crowdfunding platform, there is an end date for every campaign. All funds contributed will be deposited into the student’s bank account.

To get the word about EduFund out to students, Cybatar is currently partnering with student organisations and non-profit organisations,while social media is the main channel to reach potential funders.

EduFund’s short term goal is to have raised enough money to help 500 students cover any outstanding study debt by the close of 2015. It’s five-year plan is to raise R1 million.

[Image – EduFund]