Tshegofatso Masenya, a fifth-year medical student at the University of Cape Town (UCT) noticed that more and more tweets from anxious students began appearing on her Twitter timeline.
Their financial stress sparked her business idea which has earned her a spot in the last leg of the 2021 Entrepreneurship Intervarsity competition.
The text messages were almost identical. They were desperately seeking donors to fund the balance of their college or university fees as they were facing the reality that would they not be allowed to graduate unless their accounts were paid in full.
Masenya established GoShare – an online, donation-based crowdfunding platform that allows students to raise funds to cover their outstanding fees.
“With GoShare, our main aim is to democratise access to tertiary education, harness the power of community, and cultivate a culture of investing in one another,” she said.
Masenya is one of three UCT students who topped the regional round of the competition, and who will proceed to the final in November.
What university students need to know
GoShare aims to dignify crowdfunding.
“We acknowledge that publicly asking for financial assistance is both daunting and requires that students disclose personal information about themselves and their circumstances on public platforms like Twitter and Facebook. We want to change that,” Masenya said.
While most donation-based crowdfunding is considered a once-off transaction, Masenya said, GoShare is different. The platform lists individuals, their interests and aspirations above their financial circumstances.
This means that donors get to know students. The platform also tracks students’ university progress, and grants donors exclusive access to their student journeys from the minute the first donation is made until graduation day.
“No amount is too little. We want donors to know that we appreciate each donation, and that each donation can make a huge impact in the lives of many students,” she said.
Masenya said students from combined annual income households of R600 000 or less fit the platform’s eligibility criteria. This means the platform also accounts for those students who are part of the ‘missing middle’. Masenya said all students have equal access to funding opportunities on the GoShare platform.
The platform is open to students from South Africa’s 26 public universities, TVET colleges and other private institutions.
Spirit of giving
She said her platform created a conducive environment that promotes the spirit of giving and recognises that the return on investment of an educated youth holds great promise for the economic growth and development of our country.
“We hope that this platform will give students the space to focus on their studies and reach the highest expression of themselves without financial barriers.”
GoShare’s success depends on the generous donations of fellow South Africans.
“As a nation, we pride ourselves in the spirit of ubuntu. So it should come as no surprise that the success of any donation-based crowdfunding platform relies heavily on the willingness of people to help those around them. Our students need every rand,” she said.