Female students who require financial support to start or further their studies in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) at tertiary institutions now have the opportunity to motivate to be beneficiaries of a crowdfunding initiative. This follows a decision by Standard Bank, the overall winner of the MTN Business App of the Year Awards, to donate their R200 000 prize money to the Feenix Trust, a crowdfunding initiative for students that assists them to fund their studies.
Standard Bank took the top honour at the recent MTN Business App of the Year Awards with Shyft, their foreign exchange (forex) app created to broaden access to forex and transform customer experience.
Says Mandisa Ntloko, General Manager for Enterprise Marketing at MTN Business South Africa: “We are pleased that Standard Bank has used their prize money to support Women in STEM. MTN has embarked on a drive to increase the number of women in technical fields. This included the introduction of a Women in STEM category in the MTN Business App of the Year Awards. In addition, MTN supports other initiatives in this area, such as the annual MTN Women in ICT – Partnership for Change Awards.
“The support of Women in STEM is an example of MTN’s and Standard Bank’s partnership in this space, and we look forward to like-minded collaborations with other entities in the future. This will enable us to ensure that we continue to brighten the lives of those most in need of support.”
Fikile Kgobe, Executive and Head: Foreign Exchange PBB Standard Bank, concurs and recalls that the team responsible for developing the Shyft app wanted to make a positive and lasting contribution to funding students facing financial challenges at higher learning institutions.
“In response to the #FeesMustFall movement, it was decided that the prize money should be used to assist gifted female students in STEM who lack the financial means to start or further their studies. We are exceptionally pleased to be given the opportunity to be part of a solution. We hope that the contribution we have made will turn the dreams of some deserving female students into reality,” says Kgobe.
Talking about the award-winning app itself, Arno von Helden, Executive Head: Forex Solutions, Standard Bank, concedes that the decision to develop the forex app was borne out of the need to democratise access to forex and to remove elitist perceptions around foreign exchange.
“Forex has historically been perceived as elitist, but the concept of forex is much broader than that,” von Helden explains. “Forex encompasses a range of different transactions that people undertake on a daily basis. It is something that cuts across a number of lifestyle needs and a range of income demographics. This includes a person sending money across the border to his or her family, someone who enjoys or needs to shop online, a parent making tuition payments for his or her child overseas, or a backpacker wishing to purchase currency for his or her travel destination.”
“Our aim was to facilitate access to forex by creating a platform that enables everyone, from investors to the man on the street, to seamlessly participate in the forex market. It is not simply limited to the purchase of currency, but something that has permeated every facet of life. This is particularly so in the era of globalisation and digitisation, where consumers can transact in real-time with each other regardless of physical borders,” adds Von Helden.
He says the Shyft app has given many people the confidence to participate in the forex market. This is because customers can do so from the palm of their hands. Using Shyft, customers can handle all their forex requirements from their smartphones, without the need to visit a branch. It allows customers to buy up to R1 million in foreign exchange; make payments; manage remittances; create virtual cards for shopping online; order a physical card and top it up with forex; purchase and store forex; transfer funds overseas; and order multi-currency physical travel cards.
The currencies that can be purchased include US Dollars, Pounds, Euros and Australian Dollars, with the aim to add more currencies in future.
“Shyft is really about removing the barriers of entry to the world of foreign exchange, and offering customers the convenience of handling all their transactions anywhere, anytime,” says von Helden.
Mandisa Ntloko from MTN Business concurs. She points out that as a company that has a footprint in 22 markets in Africa and the Middle East, MTN can relate to the importance of democratising forex.
“In as much as we have successfully facilitated access to telecommunication services for millions of customers across the markets that we operate in, we are pleased to work with synergistic entities like Standard Bank. They too are pushing the boundaries and using the power of connectivity to provide services to millions of people. Through the MTN Business App of the Year Awards, we are championing the development of home grown solutions and fostering the growth of the app development industry in South Africa. We are proud of the role we are playing in giving impetus to the local app development sector, and remain confident that through the platforms we have created, we will continue in our delivery of a bold, new digital world for our customers,” concludes Ntloko.
Eligible female students in the STEM space who are looking to fund their tertiary studies, are encouraged to go to www.feenix.org/register to create a profile and motivate for a portion of Standard Bank’s MTN Business App of the Year prize money, in addition to more funds that have been allocated to the crowdfunding initiative.
For more information about the MTN Business App of the Year Awards, and the winners in each of the 12 categories, go to www.appoftheyear.co.za or @MTNBusinessZA on Twitter and follow #MTNAppAwards.