The Seed, Africa is a unique ‘philanthropic flashmob’, united by the belief that if you educate a girl, you plant the seed to change the world.
At the end of 2012, 200 individuals crowdfunded a £7,300 scholarship to send a girl in rural Swaziland to boarding school – moving her one step closer to fulfilling her dream of becoming a doctor.
Each year, we have come together to fundraise the next year of the scholarship and in December 2014 crowdfunded a further £4,400. We’ve now funded our girl all the way through school and she is due to graduate in 2017!
From October 2013 to December 2014, The Seed also coordinated a weekly girls’ empowerment group in our girl’s home community, extending our support to her friends and peers. The focus of this 14-month programme was on building confidence and leadership skills, careers-development and community outreach. Find out more on our Facebook page!
Our dream is to build a school for vulnerable and at risk girls in Swaziland. A safe, innovative space where they can heal and bloom.
The Seed was started by Georgina-Kate Adams (Georgie), a 30-year-old journalist and communications consultant from Emsworth (UK) – with lots of generous support, in particular from Andrew Denham of The Bicycle Academy.
She has been concerned with issues of international development since learning about the AIDS pandemic as a teenager. A few days after completing her A-levels she ran off to Africa to see the problem first-hand, and spent a month volunteering in a children’s centre in Swaziland.
She started sponsoring a girl she met there, Lelo, now more than 12 years ago. A relationship which ultimately led to the founding of The Seed. She has also worked as a human rights journalist on a Liberian refugee camp in Ghana and spent a year working in the fair trade and social enterprise sectors in Swaziland. She now works as a consultant with charities and social businesses in the UK and Africa, while studying part-time for a Masters in Gender, Education and International Development.
The Seed became a registered charity with HMRC in January 2016, meaning we can now benefit from GiftAid. (We’re still too small to register with the Charity Commission.)
We describe ourselves as a ‘philanthropic flashmob’: a group of people who sporadically come together and, with one small gesture (or monetary pledge), plant a seed with the potential to change the world.
We hope that you, as an empowered group, will stay engaged, so that if on our travels we come across – for example, an African entrepreneur who needs
This is your project, so we’ll take our cues from you, as well as from the girls and the community! Lelo’s dream is for every girl in Swaziland to grow up in a safe space and to receive a full and good quality education. We want to help her make that dream come true.
We know how overwhelming the world’s problems can be – charity campaigners tackling you in the streets for monthly donations you can’t afford, news reports of war and famine. It’s easy to feel powerless, and thus do nothing.
The Seed is different. We want to breed positivity and let you know that, actually, you, and your mate, and your 241 other Facebook friends, each have the power to change the world – you’ve just got to get together. For together, with a small one-off action, you can plant a seed, which as it flourishes has the potential to stop the cycle of poverty in its tracks, and bring about real global change.
‘Philanthropic flashmob’ is a term The Seed’s coined to describe our vision for our supporters.
You may have heard of a flashmob before – a group of people who get together to do one seemingly-sporadic action in one place, at one time. Like the folk who started dancing in Liverpool St Station for the T-Mobile ad…
If you want to be literal about it, a ‘philanthropic flashmob’ might look a little like THIS! But, don’t worry, we won’t make you sing or don a nun’s habit (unless you so wish Sister!)
Our ‘philanthropic flashmob’ should be every bit as empowering, humbling and fun, but rather than learning a new dance routine, we do something philanthropic – each pledge a small amount of money on one website, at one time.
And rather than the result being 200 jazz hands shimmying in motion, it’s something even more dramatic – the planting of a seed to change the world.
It seems strange, right? That one teenage girl is the solution to global problems that have remained unresolved for generation upon generation?
Well, it’s true. But that’s not to suggest that it’s going to happen overnight.
We could talk about this topic for hours, so here’s a couple of videos that simplify the story…
We believe it starts with one girl and one scholarship.
The school we’re sending our girl to is one of the leading boarding schools in her country – and indeed, Southern Africa.
We’re not going to pretend the fees aren’t a lot of money, but they are a third of the average annual fee for a boarding school in the UK, and this school has maintained a 100% pass rate for more than 25 years.
It has a teacher to pupil ratio of about 1:17 and students typically go on to careers in bio chemistry, medicine, engineering, architecture, law, business and international relations – with over 80% studying at universities in South Africa and a few offered places at international universities, including in the US and UK.
Absolutely, it could. But The Seed has spotted a startling gap where by, yes, there are charities in place to educate primary and – less so – secondary school children, but we are yet to find one that has acknowledged the importance of educating some children at a higher level.
If we are to create doctors and leaders in the next generation, this is essential. Especially in a country like Swaziland where, for example, an entire generation of nurses is being killed by AIDS.
There are no medical schools in Swaziland, so for any Swazi child to become a doctor they would have to be educated at a school that would give them a chance of obtaining a place at a South African university. The school we’re sending our girl to follows the South African curriculum.
Her name’s Lelo, she’s now 20-years-old, and she lives on a homestead with her Gogo, siblings and cousins near a small market town in Swaziland. She’s not an orphan, but what is described as a vulnerable child, reliant on the care of her elderly grandmother, as her parents are unable to support her.
She met Georgina-Kate when she was eight (and Georgie, 18) at a local children’s centre, where she went in the day for care. While the other kids would run off from the simple mat that made up their outdoor classroom, Lelo stayed and enthusiastically learnt her colours, new words and how to spell her and Georgie’s names – writing the two of them everywhere; including one day on the bottom of Georgie’s flipflops!
When she was 13, she wrote to Georgie asking to go to boarding school, after struggling with threats from bullies at her local primary school. At Easter 2012, she and Georgie were reunited, and after a lot of hard work, were invited to sit entrance exams at some of Swaziland’s leading schools – before being offered a place at one of the best!
No reason. It could be any girl and the same principle – that every child deserves a chance – would apply. It’s just that this girl had a chance, and it is only with our help that she was able to accept her offer to study at one of Swaziland’s best boarding schools.
The fact that she was top of her class every year at primary school is much of a muchness. However, we do believe that when a child shows potential, and an appetite for learning, they should be given every opportunity to develop that.
According to The Girl Effect, the point at which everything changes in the developing world is when a girl turns 12. That’s especially true in countries like Sierra Leone, where some 12-year-olds get married to older men – but it depends a bit on the girl and when she reaches ‘maturity’.
When we started this campaign, our girl was 15 and yet to hit puberty – and as she did, she’s needed even greater protection! One in three Swazi girls experience sexual violence before the age of 18. We’ve been able to use this window of opportunity to keep Lelo in a safe environment and set her on a course that is focused on education.
You’d be excused if you’ve never heard of crowdfunding before. It’s been a bit of an underground movement until a few years ago, but is now becoming a popular way to fund a business, launch an art project or do some good using the power of the crowd.
Rather than asking one person or organisation for all the funds they need, a pitch owner (in this case, us) sets a monetary goal on their chosen crowdfunding platform, then asks lots of people (in this case, you) to contribute a small amount to help them reach their target. However, it’s all or nothing, so if a pitch doesn’t raise all the funds it needs within its running time, everybody gets their money back.
For more information, give this article Georgina-Kate wrote – What is crowdfunding? – a read.
Most crowdfunding platforms recommend that pitch owners offer their supporters a ‘reward’, as an added incentive to make a pledge. These include t-shirts, shout outs and so on, and are typically funded from a small percentage of that person’s donation. However, if you don’t want the reward or would rather the pitch owner received your full donation, you can decline it and just pledge.
We worked with some very clever people to make some very special rewards for our first campaign. Check them out here.
Thanks for asking! Our logo was generously designed by the multi-talented and award-winning Pencil Studio, in Frome.
Please e-mail Georgina-Kate any other questions on firstname.lastname@example.org She’d be happy to answer them.