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UWC accounting students receive a R1.3m lifeline from Momentum Health

Author: Institutional Advancement

Momentum Health has donated over R1.3 million to UWC’s Department of Accounting - money that will help nearly 50 final-year students complete their studies free of worries over outstanding debt.

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Jonathan Maguwa’s story is an all-too familiar one on South African campuses – with no bursaries and his fees beyond his family’s means, he started 2020 uncertain how he was going to pay for his studies. 

At that stage, the final-year BCom student at the University of the Western Cape was just hoping for the best, he says. And that optimism paid off recently when he heard that he was one of 48 students in the final years of their BCom Accounting or BCom Financial Accounting degrees who would receive much-needed financial support this year.

This all thanks to a generous donation of R1,362,370 from Momentum Health Solutions (MHS) to UWC’s Department of Accounting. 

One of the first things Maguwa did on receiving news of the sponsorship was call his parents. “Now I can give my undivided attention to my studies,” he says. 

Which is exactly one of the intentions of the donation, explains Takalani Nethengwe, whose company, the Institute of Business Partnerships (IBP), approaches private sector businesses for development funding to go to disadvantaged groups. It was the IBP that had secured the award from MHS. 

“This funding is a way for MHS to contribute to the transformation agenda of the country, as well as alleviating poverty,” says Nethengwe. 

For the student beneficiaries, the support comes as a lifeline. 

Nuha Salie tells of the sleepless nights her parents, among those financially hurt by the COVID-19 lockdown, have had to endure as they tried to figure out how they would pay for her fees. “It means the world to me; it means the world to my family,” Salie says of the MHS funding. “It has definitely lifted a huge weight off all our shoulders.”

Likewise, Yongama Setwayo had been stressing about how he was going to cover his fees this year with no financial support to rely on. Then he heard that he had been selected for assistance through the MHS donation. “It has made a huge difference in my academic life, and I am immensely grateful,” he says.

Ms Mihlali Cekiso had similar worries for 2020, which started off on a bad note for her. “At the beginning of the year it was a very stressful year as I had found out that I don’t have a bursary anymore,” she recalls. “I want to take this opportunity to thank Momentum Health Solutions.” 

The MHS donation addresses at UWC what is in fact a national issue. 

Every year, thousands upon thousands of students fall into what is known as “the missing middle” – students whose family income is too high to qualify for financial aid from their institutions or from national initiatives like the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS), but is still insufficient to pay for a tertiary education by themselves.

As a result, thousands of students complete their studies with outstanding fees. Universities typically withhold the results of these students, who then can’t enter the job market with official qualifications.

“The thing that we look forward to most is graduating and completing our degree,” remarks Maguwa. Thanks to MHS, he will be able to enjoy that experience to the full. “Without this contribution, it wouldn’t have been possible because I would still have had debt.” 

The Department of Accounting understands and appreciates the role that donations like that made by MHS can play in students’ lives, and in the country’s welfare. 

“Thank you for investing in the future of South Africa,” says Ms Bonita Raymond, Chairperson of the Department of Accounting, “and helping a significant number of financially needy students in getting one step closer to fulfilling their goals and creating a bright future for our nation.” 

It’s been widely commented that 2020 will be among the most trying and troubled in recent memory. These 48 students may now remember the year more fondly. 


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