The Seed, Africa
Megan Foo of The NextWomen examines the issue of the lack of access to education for girls in developing countries. Megan talks to Georgina-Kate Adams, Founder of crowdfunding project The Seed, Africa, regarding the impact of educating girls through crowdfunding.
“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”
These words, spoken by Irish poet William Butler Yeats, have profoundly influenced my life, values and belief system. They are words to abide by, reminding me that through formative experiences in the context of the classroom, I am readily able to fuel an insatiable thirst for knowledge and a lifelong love of learning.
Education not only kindles the sparks of intellectual passion, it also never fails to ignire the flames of individual freedom and empowerment.
As a high school junior in Hong Kong who has received an amazing education thus far, I can attest to this fact.
Unfortunately, this state of mind does not resonate with many of my counterparts in other countries, adolescent girls who face persistent barriers to education. School attendance and enrollment rates remain low for girls in developing countries; a 2012 World Bank report places the count of girls out of school at 31 million globally.
This foreboding figure raises an urgent question: what can we do now to ensure that the fundamental human right of education is fully realised for every girl around the world?
Entering our data-driven digital society, this question has been answered time and time again through the advent of crowdfunding philanthropy, which sees social entrepreneurs leveraging donor support and voluntary micropayments to projects and organisations focused on furthering girls’ education.A streamlined approach to improving access to education, crowdfunding often serves as a funding mechanism for education projects that are little known or difficult to reach.
Uniting the worlds of business, technology, and philanthropy, crowdfunding achieves a two-fold effect of raising awareness of a cause and securing funding for the individuals who need it the most.
This past month, I was able to gain some insight from Georgina-Kate Adams, the Founder of The Seed, Africa (a crowdfunding project that supports girls’ education in Swaziland), regarding the impact of educating girls through crowdfunding.
Founded as a crowdfunding project, The Seed hosted its first pitch on Crowdfunder.co.uk in November 2012.
Volunteers and supporters of The Seed believe that “if you educate a girl, you plant a seed to change a community, a nation, and every future generation”.
The Seed, Africa brought together 200 people in what they describe as a "philanthropic flashmob" - funding a £7000 scholarship so that a girl in Swaziland could attend boarding school and fulfil her dream of becoming a doctor.
According to The Seed Founder Georgina-Kate Adams, the impact of the funds raised through crowdfunding has been immeasurable. Not only is the girl “in her second year of boarding school and is excelling”, but “the transformation in her confidence, self belief and ambition is incredible” - a testament indeed to the fact that education is a catalyst for individual empowerment. Furthermore, the crowdfunding campaign, which harnessed the power of flashmobs, online advocacy and social networking in tandem, helped spur people to amplify their solidarity with the girls’ education cause.
Georgina-Kate notes that “many of our supporters are now proud ambassadors for girls’ education in their own lives, having had no prior engagement with the issue before the crowdfunding”.
However, great success always follows equally great challenges - Georgina-Kate can vouch for this. The classic challenges that accompany crowdfunding campaigns, namely budgeting, filming, marketing and time commitments, still appertained to The Seed during its early phases. A challenge unique to The Seed’s crowdfunding project, however, lay in convincing prospective donors of the impact of investing in just one girl’s schooling.
“The traditional charity model favours large numbers of beneficiaries, but we believe passionately that the priority in girls' education must be on quality, not quantity”, Georgina-Kate affirms. Alienating potential donors by focusing attention on girls also proved a hurdle for The Seed. “That said, I do believe that in order for girls’ education to be a success in Africa, you can’t forget the men in a community. You must also educate and empower them to support their sisters and daughters,” Georgina-Kate remarks. “The two go hand-in-hand.”
The dynamic online donation community that crowdfunding has birthed breathes significant contemporary relevance, allowing individuals to systematically accelerate positive change and nurture a sense of community through donating to and reading up on meaningful causes.As someone who actively uses crowdfunding platforms to support girls’ education focused organisations based in Guatemala, I am continually inspired that crowdfunding allows me to give my counterparts in other countries the same opportunities I’ve been lucky enough to have in Hong Kong.
Most importantly, crowdfunding has reinforced in me that just as my teachers and peers have inspired me to be the best I can be, I can make a similar difference in someone else’s life.
Megan Foo is a Year 12 student at Chinese International School in Hong Kong. She has written often about issues in gender and education on online platforms like Girls’ Globe and VolunTEEN Nation. As a Contributor for The Next Women, she hopes to raise awareness of women’s entrepreneurial initiatives and economic empowerment. Having been involved with many philanthropic causes including raising funds for family violence intervention training for adolescent girls in Guatemala, Megan is the Chief Content Officer of Givology, an online giving marketplace that leverages dollar donations to grassroots education projects in the developing world through a crowdfunding philanthropy business model.
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