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eZaga Holdings (eZaga), selected as one of four fintech providers appointed by the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) to disburse monthly allowances to South African university students who qualify for funding support, has successfully onboarded 98.1% of students allocated to them. This allows all these students to receive their much-needed monthly allowances.
The new NSFAS payment programme was initially launched June 2022 at Technical and Vocational Education and Trainings colleges (TVETs) throughout South Africa and was implemented smoothly by NSFAS and four fintech providers with all students transitioning to the new system seamlessly.
Following the successful implementation at the TVETs, NSFAS together with eZaga, extended the solution to students at six universities including Durban University of Technology, Vaal University of Technology, Tshwane University of Technology, University of Limpopo, University of Zululand and University of the Free State.
Like any ambitious venture, eZaga experienced teething problems in the initial stages. These were compounded by the fact that the fintech has had to contend with an aggressive misinformation campaign, with many individuals and stakeholders hoping to see the programme fail.
Saud Ally, CEO of eZaga says, “While the past three months since onboarding the universities have posed some challenges , they have been managed with resilience and a steadfast commitment to the objectives set out for us by NSFAS. They have allowed us to refine our processes, strengthen our partnerships with educational institutions and better understand the specific needs of students and universities.”
“Thanks to constructive feedback from students and stakeholders, we have been able to implement changes to the programme such as how the fees are structured. Through these adjustments, we prioritised student needs while ensuring that we consistently deliver a quality service,” says Ally.
The eZaga team has been diligent and transparent in addressing concerns, correcting misconceptions, and engaging with many stakeholders to current inaccuracies about its role in the programme and build trust and transparency. As a result, the company remains firmly dedicated to its mission of offering financial support to students in need. This commitment means that eZaga’s focus is on the remaining 1.9% of students who are still in the process of onboarding.
These students must fulfil the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) and the South African Reserve Bank’s (SARB) Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements to assist banks in complying with Anti-Money Laundering regulations and preventing fraud before they can receive and access their allowances.
To assist student beneficiaries to onboard and use the new payment programme successfully, eZaga has launched a comprehensive communication and financial education campaign via social media, email, SMS, WhatsApp and digital classes.
It has also set up a dedicated call centre that offers support 24/7, and introduced an innovative platform known as “Campus Buzz,” exclusively designed for NSFAS beneficiaries. This platform offers a range of value-added services aimed at enriching the student experience and lifestyle. These benefits include travel vouchers, entertainment options, opportunities to redeem tourism offers, and partnerships with retailers to meet student needs.
The company has also employed over 30 graduates to serve as intermediaries on university campuses. Their primary role is to facilitate communication, training, and education to help NSFAS students make informed financial decisions, equipping them with tools for a financially secure future.
“We will continue to apply our fintech expertise to help solve the financial problems South African students face. Our commitment to transparency and our willingness to address our shortcomings have already relieved the financial burdens of well over 140,000 students,” he says.