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Jess Smith’s key area of focus is how the way international organisations are structured effects and influences the way uniquely African problems are resolved.


Johannesburg, South Africa – South African Jesse Smith is crowdfunding her ambition of studying a Masters Degree in International Relations and Diplomacy at the International University in Geneva.

Smith, who has a degree in International Relations from the prestigious University of London and a BA in Ministry from the Adonai International Christian University in Sacramento, believes her life’s ambition is to serve others.

“I want to study this degree to help raise the profile of developing nations so they can increase their share of voice in the international arena,” Smith says.

She adds that, while there is quite a fair amount of attention being placed on developing countries and their growth rates at the moment, no real global power is given to developing nations. The international order is still structured as if it were 1945, and developing countries have little decision-making power in the international forum.

“My key area of focus is how the way international organisations are structured effects and influences the way uniquely African problems are resolved. For example, the communication breakdowns within the UN Security Council and UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency) resulted in a hamstrung global society, which couldn’t respond to crises in Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. I want to study these organisational structures, so they can be influenced to benefit developing countries and regional organisations, like the African Union, which can then be empowered to address local issues of security of development.”

She explains that most of the power imbalances are reflected in the power dynamics at organisations like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, and she hopes that, through studying these institutional frameworks, she will be able to contribute to a new way for how developing countries receive financial and physical aid.

The International University in Geneva, founded in 1997, is ranked among the top ten business schools in Switzerland. It is, however, a niche institution and only takes 200 students a year. It is accredited with the British Accreditation Council, the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP), and the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE). ACBSP and IACBE are recognised by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

Smith studied her previous degrees through correspondence while holding down a full-time ministry position and working in her spare time.

“While I have some money saved, it is not enough to pay for my Master’s course in Switzerland.”

As a result, Smith has turned to crowdfunding to reach her aim of raising a R75 000 deposit by the end of the month. So far, she is 10 per cent of the way there. She will need to raise a further R500 000 by September to fund her full tuition.

Crowdfunding as a way to raise funds to fulfil an ambition is a relatively new phenomenon in South Africa, and there currently are not many platforms to choose from.

As Personal Finance has found, it is here to stay, and such projects have led to the many happy outcomes, including the launch of new technologies, rescuing charities, and taking people to places they would never have reached otherwise.

BackaBuddy, the platform Smith is using, has raised almost R100 million, which has benefitted campaigns such as one to aid victims of fire, and another for the Smile Foundation.

Its CEO, Patrick Schofield, is on record as having said that the platform “allows us to come together as communities to support people and causes that we believe in, regardless of our differences”.

“Developing nations further is a cause I strongly believe in, and this is why I am asking South Africans to help me achieve my dream of helping others,” concludes Smith.

Jess Smith's key area of focus is how the way international organisations are structured effects and influences the way uniquely African problems are resolved.

Sources: Jesse Smith
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