• It's sought as the first option for any hardship we face instead of as a last resort
I found myself locked in a Twitter exchange this past week with a young girl who was ‘Twitter crowdfunding’ for tuition on her diploma course. I have every inclination the young lady is genuine and in need of money to pay for her tuition. But, is social media the right forum for crowdfunding?
Here’s the thing, I believe in crowdfunding just like the average Kenyan. We grew up on the Nyayo philosophy of 'harambee', meaning coming together. With time, the mantra of this philosophy was associated with coming together to crowdfund, that is, “we are having a harambee for John’s university fees”. The harambees of yesteryears turned to the 'mchangos' of today. In modern society, it became the norm for parents to have a fundraising party with friends and relatives to help kick-start their children’s education, especially at tertiary level.
As Kenyans, we rely heavily on fundraising to help settle huge medical bills and exorbitant funeral expenses. We are no strangers to a fundraiser that helps a friend (or even a stranger) to start a 'ka-biashara' so they could provide for themselves. In essence, fundraising has become an integral part of our lives. It helps people when they are at the throes of despair. It helps us lift each other up in a struggling economy…
However, am I a fan of fundraising for every little thing? Absolutely not! I believe the availability of crowdfunding sources is making people lazy. Instead of using crowdsourcing as a last resort, it has turned into the first option for any hardship we face in life. The younger generation is especially vulnerable to this folly as they grew up with the Internet. They do not understand a world without the Internet. The Internet is the first and only solution to everything.
My question to the young lady seeking funding was, “Say you meet your goal and raise your tuition for this term, what happens next term?” I do not mean to be unsupportive to any young person seeking an education; in fact, it is quite the opposite. The only reason I am very passionate about this topic is because I have been there.
While I was fortunate that my parents could afford part of my tuition, I was always looking for funding opportunities to ease their burden. I have applied and been rejected to more scholarship opportunities than I can count. I have queued up for hours in my attempt to get CDF. I took student loans, been to countless interviews for bursaries, had to join societies on campus because they afforded better funding opportunities and I have worked for numerous years as a student assistant on campus to help fund for part of tuition.
I have done all this and more to fund my way through two degrees. I know first-hand what it is like to fund for school. I also know the hard work it takes to actually get funding. I know how many rejections it takes before you are accepted. But I also know how many opportunities are out there, waiting for someone to come knocking.
Online crowdfunding is the dream sponsorship for young people, who believe help is only a post away. The entitlement mentality is the detriment of a hardworking society. We are not asking for much from the younger generation. They have more opportunities than we could ever have dreamed of. They just have to put in a little effort to get help. They don’t have to work as hard as the previous generations, who had to start from nothing. All we are asking is that they at least try…