MEMORY MANINGA, Lusaka
GIVEN the state of the global economy, financial literacy is a growing concern in many countries.
Financial institutions around the world have come up with credit opportunities for consumers, but in many instances lack of knowledge on how to use these facilities has caused many to land in financial trouble.
Many households today suffer from financial uncertainty arising from accumulation of debts due to loans, among other things.
Ensuring that such unfortunate incidences are addressed requires sensitisation of available financial services and their use.
Zambia is working towards achieving financial literacy through raising awareness on the importance of being financially literate.
Earlier this year, the country commemorated the financial literacy week under the theme ‘Know and plan to live a better life’.
The objective of the 2017 literacy week was to create public awareness on key life events to citizens while empowering them with knowledge and understanding to meet financial obligations.
People encounter key events through their journey of life and it is important that they are prepared for them.
such encounters include the birth of a child, responsibilities to do with education, marriage and even some events that may arise unexpectedly.
Financial literacy week national organising committee (NOC) chairperson Martin Libinga says financial literacy is key to acquire peace of mind when people encounter major life events.
He advises that to eliminate pressure and stress, people ought to plan ahead.
“During life, people experience some key life events which may be associated with a high level of financial obligations.
“Some of these events are marriage, education, retirement and so on, but if one is not prepared both psychologically and financially, a high level of stress arises,” Mr Libinga said.
Attaining financial inclusion is, however, key to achieving financial literacy in the country.
If enhanced, financial inclusion could allow people in all corners of the country to learn more about financial services that are available.
However, for a long time now, the focus of attaining financial inclusion has been placed towards financially illiterate adults.
This is changing as young people now have the opportunity to acquire financial literacy.
In 2011, Standard Chartered Bank made a global commitment to the Clinton Global Initiative.
The commitment is aimed at reaching a total of 600,000 girls globally with life skills by the year 2018.
It is under this commitment that the Goal initiative was birthed.
The initiative is aimed at equipping adolescent girls with the confidence, knowledge and skills to become essential economic leaders at household, community, and later on, country level.
On board are global experts who are training girls in various communities in life skills and the need to have confidence if they are to become leaders in future.
Through the Goal programme, the bank is teaching girls proper money management skills to help them acquire tools that can shape them to become vibrant economic leaders in the future.
The financial literacy training is also educating the girls on the concept of asset management and the importance of capital formulation to enable them become low-income employers and gain wealth.
Sporting activities have also been incorporated in the training as a way of capturing more participants.
Kamanga township in Lusaka is one of the areas that has benefitted after a successful training session held recently.
Over 300 girls in the area have so far been trained to be financially literate.
Cecilia Mutale, 15, explains how delighted she is to have taken part in the training.
She explains how she has learnt the importance of saving and money management.
Cecilia says she will now begin to save in preparation for her small business of selling popcorn and iced drinks called freezits to meet some of her needs.
“I feel motivated to save and start up a small business of selling freezits and popcorn at home. Like that, I will be having money and I will not need to run to my parents for everything that I need,” she says.
In Zambia, 7,800 girls have been trained and by the end of 2018, a total of 12,000 girls are expected to undergo this training countrywide.
Standard Chartered Bank head of financial institution and development organisation, Farida Mukasa, explains that the Goal programme is a good platform for enhancing financial literacy and life skills among girls.
She says it gives adolescent girls the opportunity to become financially literate and make good life and financial choices in future.
“We have reached over 7,800 Zambian girls through our Goal programme and our target is to empower 12,000 adolescent girls by the end of this year with financial literacy and sport-based leadership skills.
This is a key step to economic empowerment in the country because if children acquire these skills at a tender age, they will be able to efficiently utilise them in future and become good leaders,” she said.