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Helping young people realise their dreams

written by Ursula Graaff
A specialised fund set up by a state youth development agency helps youngsters and civil sector organisations with once-off funding.

Thusano, meaning ‘a helping hand’, is exactly what the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) does through its Thusano Fund, which was established to ensure a brighter future for South Africa’s youth and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

The fund assists students with their day-to-day needs during their education and skills training journey.

The fund was established in 2014 and serves two primary purposes:

•  Supporting students who do not qualify for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme funding, but cannot afford to cover all the costs of their tertiary education. Many of these students are in debt or arrears with school fees.

•  Assisting young people who are making a difference in their communities.

“Though the Thusano Fund, the NYDA plays an important role in helping students unlock funding to complete their studies,” says NYDA Chief Executive Officer Waseem Carrim. He notes that by supporting young people’s community-based initiatives, the fund enables them to access resources needed to identify and implement social change.

One of the beneficiaries of the fund, Julian Zwane, who was raised by a single father who fell ill when she was doing her final year at university, heard about the initiative on social media and applied for money to cover her debt at the University of the Witwatersrand.

Zwane, who was struggling to pay off debt because bursaries were not covering outstanding fees, says she is hopeful for a better future.

“Now that I have my degree, I can apply for jobs which are in line with my career prospects,” she says.

Another beneficiary, Michael Ngobeni, stopped studying because he couldn’t afford to pay. “The debt weighed heavily on me. I had to suspend my studies for four years, despite having only four modules left.”

The agency helped Ngobeni pay off the debt and continue with his studies.

Dumisani Ndluli owed money to the University of Pretoria. With assistance from the NYDA, he completed his bachelor’s degree in animal science.

He is paying his good fortune forward by using his degree for the greater good of his community. “When I am back home in Mpumalanga, I assist my community, especially pensioners, with vaccinating their livestock.”

How to apply

The fund will consider the following applications:

•    Requests of up to and including R50 000 per candidate or organisation.

•    Individuals requiring funds to settle overdue tertiary or school fees.

•    Individuals aiming to pursue short courses.

•    NGOs requiring once-off financial support.

•    NGOs in need of equipment.

•    Events for social development or awareness.

How to register on the NYDA online portal.

•    Visit https://erp.nyda.gov.za/

•    Click on the ‘youth enquiry’ button or ‘register’ menu item at the top (alternatively, follow this link (https://erp.nyda.gov.za/register-youth).

•    Complete the youth enquiry/registration form (take note of the nearest branch that you select, as all future applications will be redirected to that branch for processing).

•    Your registration request will be processed by a branch administrator.

•    You will get an email invitation to the ERP system.

•    Once you have activated your account, you can log in and apply for Thusano funding or other available products and services.

Additional information supplied by the NYDA.

For more information about the Thusano Fund, go to www.nyda.gov.za