How multi-sector partnerships spell the future for financial education

Carl Manlan, Vice President, Social Impact for Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East, and Africa (CEMEA) at Visa. [Standard]

Over the years in the fight against AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, we have learnt about the effectiveness of purpose-led partnerships.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic provided us with a sense of urgency in supporting individuals and households to take full advantage of the digital economy.

The continent’s response to health emergencies suggests that we have the tools to push forward in creating a more inclusive society, particularly in the areas of education and capacity development.

In April 2022, a media company leveraged key partners to make on-demand mobile-based learning accessible to millions of young Africans.

The model bets on the success of the entertainment platform to attract young people to take an extra step in strengthening their entrepreneurial skills.

This highlights the importance of multi-stakeholder partnerships in ensuring access to skills and educational messages for Africa’s youth. Moreover, the critical importance of experience-based learning and platforms in advancing socio-economic transformation.

According to the OECD, young adults have amongst the lowest levels of financial literacy. Solving for entrepreneurship to create employment in Africa without financial education is an impediment to human progress on the continent.

This highlights the importance of financial education, as a critical tool to enable both individuals and communities to prosper.

Entrepreneurship holds some of the answers to alleviating unemployment in Africa, but it needs to come with the right set of skills and opportunities.

Trace Academia brings in partners to offer a range of skills to millions of young Africans through their media platform. This has re-imagined Visa’s Practical Business Skills to allow young people to learn lifelong transferable skills.

Leveraging the power of technology, both platforms have been able to bring financial education content that changes the way the youth interact with entrepreneurial concepts.

Skills development is one step in the right direction as we continue to collaborate with others to create opportunities for young people.

The real impact is in the continuous application of these skills, which will help us navigate some of the challenges that affect youth and employment on the continent. 

The Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the preference for digital commerce and highlighted the opportunity for key stakeholders to come together to collaborate at the intersection of commerce and skills.

Research shows that 80 million young people will benefit from the rise of digital commerce in Africa by 2030 but this can only be enabled by access to adequate skills and relevant platforms.

Financial education starts at home and the role of parents and guardians cannot be overemphasized. Practical Money Skills is an online resource which provides content for children and youth grades K to 12.

The end in mind is the ability to take control of your finances as an individual or as a household. As such, the fundamental habit of careful management of available resources at home builds the framework for financial education and financial consumer protection which ultimately leads to more communities being included in the financial system.

As in the health sector, behaviour change communication and prevention are key factors in curbing the spread of disease. In our case, financial education and protection are key tenants in spreading expertise and leveraging skills required for individuals to sustain their livelihoods and for entrepreneurs to expand their trade from local to global value chains.

Access to healthcare and financial education may, at first, be unrelated but the pandemic has exposed the fragility of the current economic system when skills are lacking.

There is evidence suggesting that debt and financial concerns have a serious impact on mental health. As such, people living in financial hardship are at increased risk of mental health problems and poorer mental wellbeing.

Financial wellness is important for individuals and communities to continue to make a sustainable contribution to the continent.

Most critical diseases affecting the continent over the past half-century have been managed through partnerships.

Today, more than ever, we can take a cue from the health sector to make financial education accessible to all, it is a life skill that should be valued.