In Your Network: Juan Guerra
Juan Guerra is founder and CEO of StudentFunder.com, a crowdfunding platform which helps students in the UK pay for education. Find out what inspires him:
1) Please give a brief explanation of what it is you do and why?
I believe everyone should have the opportunity to thrive. Yet 250,000 people miss out on UK post-secondary education every year for financial reasons, and I could have been one of them. This leads to skill shortages that harm the economy and social immobility. The UK has a 50% shortfall of engineers and anyone born poor has a 50% chance of remaining poor.
I set up StudentFunder.com to change this. On StudentFunder.com, people can raise funds to pay for a course in return for rewards or repayments. It works exceptionally well for masters students but it is open to any student or offer holder in UK tertiary education. The money raised is paid to the academic institution.
Luckily I was able to get my education and now have the privilege and the responsibility of making it easier for others to fund theirs so that they may thrive and do great things. By improving access to education, we can meritocratise access to leadership positions, making decision-makers and role models more representative of their communities.
2) Why did you join the Fellowship?
To change the world helping others and with the help of others… and for the biscuits, of course.
3) In what capacity do you think you could contribute to society/the Fellowship?
As a fintech (finance technology) social entrepreneur, I am happy to help with all things crowdfunding, social entrepreneurship and fintech (or anything else, really).
4) What would you change in society given the chance?
I define poverty as the inability to realise our full potential. We don’t have to eliminate poverty, but it is urgent that we make it optional. We need all hands on deck.
5) What recent bit of news have you heard which inspires you?
Jenny, one of our students wants to help find a cure for cancer, but is a bit short of funds for her masters. She raised over £1,000 in less than three days from her own networks. She is very inspiring.
6) What did you learn last week?
Miracles happen all the time, often, at the very last moment.
7) Tell us about another interesting Fellow you have spoken to.
Ed Whiting and Farid Haque are two of my favourite people, period. Ed pioneered crowdfunding in the UK and is a very active fellow. Farid does so much to help young companies with purpose grow and thrive. Both have made a huge difference to StudentFunder and to me. I recently corresponded with Thomas Acton, who does brilliant work with the Traveller and Roma communities in the UK, to connect him with Oana, a friend from Romania who runs a very successful charity that turns unemployed Roma into microentrepreneurs. I would have never met Thomas had I not been through the RSA Catalyst process.
8) What would you like to connect with Fellows about? Please tell us if there is anything you would like from other Fellows
I'd like to connect to other Fellows who work in or have connections in the following areas:
- The Skills Funding Agency, Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), HEFCE and the Office of Fair Access.
- Retail lending/consumer credit/credit mutual/credit union/financial cooperatives/Co-op bank.
- Thought leaders in tertiary education.
- Pro Vice-chancellors / Deans of Students / Welfare officers from universities.
- Finally, I'd also like to connect with Fellows in student unions.