Juan Guerra, Founder of StudentFunder, on why he is going to cross the Alps wearing an elephant costume
"I grew up in Mexico but wanted desperately to attend university in Germany. Unable to obtain the funds personally, I crowdfunded my way to Germany- by asking my peers for donations and reaching out across my networks and beyond my community, way before the term “crowdfunding” even existed. Once I was there I did all sorts of things to get by, from playing guitar in bars to selling fine porcelain in Warsaw.
Upon graduation, I returned home to make a difference; I did SME banking at Citi and later wholesale microfinance at Velifin. I then got accepted for my MBA at Cranfield University, UK and once again found obtaining funding to be really challenging. I could have missed out on over £30,000 worth of scholarships if I could not come up with the last £5000 myself. Fortunately, once again, the generosity of strangers tipped the balance in my favour and I was able to go.
I have spent the last year working at Prudential Plc in London but in my spare time, I have been putting together the plan for StudentFunder. StudentFunder is my chance to give back. A chance to improve student funding and to pay forward to others for what life has done for me. But it’s not just that, it is a means for all of us to give back; to change lives for the better, to help deserving people progress, to put our faith in great people who will go on to move this world forward into a better place.
I have been inspired to cross the Alps because 2,000 years ago, one of my heroes marched an army and a bunch of elephants over the Alps. That became a symbol for thinking out of the box and achieving the impossible. Today, thousands of students are like elephants crossing the Alps, striving for great heights, reaching the summit and then facing a wall that keeps them from reaching the other side. Our mission is to change this. but to do so, we need support.
We, at StudentFunder, are running a crowdfunding campaign of our own as we embark on a journey across the alps to symbolise the struggle of thousands of students who are denied the opportunity to realise their ambitions and meet their potential.
This is not just a campaign to raise awareness about a social problem, but it serves to also launch a solution. Funding my studies felt like pushing an elephant uphill, but I was lucky to make it through. I see it as my responsibility to make sure that others do not have to be lucky in order to access the opportunities that I have had. I want to give back and I am certain that I am not the only one.
StudentFunder is a way for all of us who have received a certain amount of luck to pay it forward to the next generation and help outstanding people shine. Many of these students will become the leaders that the world needs and I am sure they will also do their part to support the next generation.”
find out more about the project here