Throughout the 2 years I’ve been running Financial Jesus I have probably got a few hundred emails from poor people (at least that’s what they say) in Africa asking for financial assistance.
Usually it goes something like this:
I am poor.
My family is poor.
I think you are rich.
Please give me money.
Just like most other people I just ignore these letters and delete them. I have to confess that there has been an odd email asking for a job or something original that has made me write an answer but I’d have to say – I will never give money to a stranger.
The question box I have on the website has also got me some questions about people wanting me to give them money – I have simply ignored these requests. Yesterday, however I got a question from Philip Chipeta in Zambia, Africa.
Here is his question:
How can I get financial assistance?
I am a student at the University of Zambia in Southern Africa, poverty is a problem I have! Please help me out of this by helping me pay for education.
I decided to answer Philip’s question as best as I can – at least the first part of it. Unfortunately I can not give him money to pay for his school – he did not supply me with a way of contacting him or getting the money to him. Here comes my first tip when asking for money:
Unfortunately I have never been to Zambia where Philip lives nor anywhere else in Africa so you should take what I say with a grain of salt and adjust it to your needs as much as necessary.
Getting Financial Assistance for Education
If you want to get financial assistance in order to get through school you can follow the same model I am about to give you. It doesn’t matter if you live in Africa, Asia or America.
Make a list of everyone you can ask for assistance
Make a list of people and companies you can ask for assistance. Include local institutions first since they are likely to care more about you. People on the other side of the world can’t care less about you. If you will write me an email saying that everyone in your country will die if I won’t help – I will still just delete the email because I don’t care about what happens to a country full of people I have never heard of.
Be sure to add all local rich people to the list. Also add the businessmen of your country that have helped someone in the past. Also add the businessmen who have never helped anyone – you might be there first victim!
Contact all the people and companies that you think can help you
Here are the ways you should contact the people and the companies on the list. From the worst method to best:
- Write an email
- Send a fax
- Write a real letter
- Go and meet people yourself
When contacting the companies and people who have the power to help you – you should stay professional. Don’t ask for money as the very first thing. Get to know the people deciding over your fate first.
When contacting your target persons in a written form – make sure you don’t do any spelling mistakes. For christ’s sake Philip – your question only had 2 sentences but I had to reword it and correct at least 4 mistakes before I could publish it above. This just doesn’t leave a good impression… Use a spellchecker if you are bad at writing. If you have access to the internet you can download Microsoft Office (I know it’s pirating but hey, when you are dirt poor, what can you do).
Meeting the people who you ask money from in person is your best bet to get help – don’t ask these people for money directly. Instead try to get to know them before. If they have the time – ask them about what they do and show real interest about what they are saying.
I have been a door to door salesman in the USA for 2 summers and after speaking to more than 5000 people – I know this for sure: Nobody cares about you – they only care about themselves. If you show them how awesome they are – they will like you and give you what you need!
What do you offer in return?
It is not a good idea to just ask for money. You have to offer something in return. Nobody cares about you – they will only give you money if it will somehow benefit them.
If it is a company you ask money from – you can promise to come and work for them for a few years after you graduate your school. If it is a person – you can find out if there is something you can help them with. If you look deep enough – you can find a way to help anyone.
Remember the golden rule:
Be an Excellent Student
If you are poor but still somehow manage to attend university you should do your best to become the best. University is your greatest bet at becoming rich. If you will get an excellent education and become the best specialist in what you do – you will be able to work wherever you want. Only a few people in the world are the best in what they do – they are the world’s most sought after specialists!
By being a great student you will most likely be noticed while still in university. It is quite common for exceptional students to start working for the university while still at school. Suck up to your teachers if you can – if they think highly of you they might recommend you as a specialist.
NB! Ask everyone you meet
While looking for financial aid you should never lose faith. When getting turned down for the 200th time you should ask them this:
“If you were in my place right now – what would you do to get the money I need”
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