B-BBEE amendments to aid higher education access

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The new Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBEE) code amendments that are coming into effect in December, should help to resolve the issue of access to higher education in South Africa, says online student crowdfunding platform Feenix.

The amendments were published in May, and will require that 2.5% of a corporation’s yearly payroll be spent on funding higher education.

Feenix resource mobilisation manager Nyasha Njela says the amendments to the BBBEE scorecard are a positive step towards addressing the challenge that many students face in the country with regard to access to higher education and that the platform can be instrumental in helping companies fund students’ education.

“The amendments, under Skills Development in the scorecard, have a specific focus on supporting higher education students. This will encourage companies to provide funding for previously disadvantaged students for which they will earn up to four points on the scorecard,” she explains.

The amendments include a revised code 300 for the Skills Development generic scorecard, and indicators for employed and unemployed learnerships are now said to be combined.

Consultancy firm Human Nature consulting director Jo-Anne Hay believes job creation and addressing funding for tertiary education are the two challenges in the South African economy that drove these amendments.

Hay says the previous target of 6% of leviable amount for generic enterprises has been split: 3.5%, or six points, are to be spent on learnership programmes, while 2.5%, or four points, are to be spent on the new indicator for Skills Development – expenditure for previously disadvantaged students at basic and higher education institutions.

“The 2.5% target is a significant part of the Skills Development scorecard and corporates will need to focus on this to maintain their required BBBEE levels. It would be beneficial for corporates to instead concentrate on their core business and work with an organisation such as Feenix to ensure the effective allocation of funding.”

One of the main challenges businesses – which choose to contribute to bursaries – face, is to identify and vet students within their sector and to manage the administration of the funding and support payments.

Hay notes that the compliance needed to claim this spend for BBBEE purposes is very specific and it can be challenging to obtain the documentation required from each student.

The process is likely to require a large amount of paperwork and communication across various channels. This is where organisations such as Feenix come in. As a crowdfunding platform for education, one of its purposes is to connect funders with university students.

Njela says Feenix carries out a vetting process for each student and ensures that all documentation required for BBBEE verification is obtained.

“The process is a simple, efficient and effective one that allows us to match the right students with the right sectors and corporates.”

The added bonus, Njela points out, is that the organisation has a database that gives it access to graduating students and those in search of internship programmes.

“The amendments will make a major contribution to higher education in South Africa. The long-term benefit of this is that we will have an educated nation, who are able to make informed decisions and who will be able to actively participate in the economy,” Njela concludes.

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