TL;DR – Tengku Syamil co-founded Skolafund in 2015, in hope that he will be able to make a difference in a student’s life by providing platform for them to apply for crowfunding, solely to fund their higher education studies. Skolafund.com is a platform for higher education students and researchers to raise funds for study expenses (fees & allowance for students in-need), and projects (student society, research and final year projects).
Syamil, is a student pursuing Business Admin at International Islamic University Malaysia (where Skolafund is based), was surfing his Facebook one day and saw a post on one of the university’s Facebook group, where a student inquires a part time job – where he already had 2 part time jobs while jugling with his studies to pay for his school fee. To his surpise, IIUM’s students replies to that post was overwhelmingly supportive; they decided to chip in money for him.
Few weeks later, he came again across a similar post, and once again he saw the students come together and willing to help a fellow who they have never knew and met before. Despite the generosity of the crowd, Syamil raises issues and concern that there are scammers who took advantage of the situation, where they appeal for crowdfunding and then trick the crowds to chip in amounts for them. “This is what we came in to fix, solve it, and that’s how we are inspired to start Skolafund.”
In Malaysia, crowdfunding is considered something new in the society, and there is always benefit of doubt given. During their early years, Skolafund has been pressured to be transparent about their processes and procedures, also their cash flow. Syamil, who takes charge of marketing, scholarship campaigns, and user relations, said that “We produced transparency sheet that is accessible to the public, regarding all the transactions did by Skolafund.”
In the process of gaining trust from the public, Skolafund didn’t just bring students onboard on their platform, but they also do verification and background check to ensure that it is not a scam. “Working with credible parties adds in more credibility to our work,” as Syamil mentioned that collaborating with communities that has large following would help them to understand and know better about their applicants.
Skolafund.com as the platform for higher education students and researchers to raise funds for study expenses, Syamil explained on the process of getting crowdfunded by the public. To start a crowdfunding campaign, students and researchers will need to submit an application on Skolafund.com. Applicants will need to submit documents to prove higher education enrolment like official letter of admission and matriculation card, household income slips if the student is raising funds for fees and allowance and other campaign-related document. Then, the verification process wll happen.
When the campaign goes live, it will go on for 30 days, campaigners and Skolafund.com will be working together to promote the campaign and raise funds. A campaign is deemed successful when it manages to raise 100% of the funding target. Skolafund.com has an All-or-Nothing Policy to prevent abuse of platform. If a campaign does not manage to raise 100%, the campaign is deemed unsuccessful and funds will be returned to sponsors.
Funds raised for the purpose of paying tuition fees will be transferred directly to the respective institution for fee payment. Only funds raised for stipends will be channeled to the student directly.
Despite the overwhelming support from the public, Syamil said that the biggest challenge in steering Skolafund is educating students on the concept of crowdfunding. “Among all the misconception of what Skolafund is, we are the provider of scholarship. Most of the time, we had to explain to them that Skolafund is a platform to raise funds,” said Syamil.
Listed in 30 Under 30 Forbes Asia in 2016, Syamil wasn’t expecting the nominations coming his way. “It was really refreshing. We work daily in and out to make thing happens, perhaps, by that that nomination, we boost the morale of the team.”
Moving forward, Skolafund has not just focusing on crowdfunding for school fees, but they also had started funding for student’s project. In faith that quality education should be accessible for all, Syamil said in conclusion that Skolafund’s team has more to learn in the future to improve the platform and also the situation of education all over the world.