This week in Nairobi, Opportunity International and The Financial Education Fund (FEF)–which is funded by the Department for International Development (DFID)–are co-sponsoring a Financial Literacy Conference to explore how access to financial services can be facilitated and enhanced through financial education initiatives.
The Financial Literacy Conference opened with remarks from Professor Njuguna S. Ndunu’u, governor of the Central Bank of Kenya, who emphasized that financial literacy not only strengthens markets but increases financial access to those living in poverty. He went on to say, “The drive toward a more financially literate Kenya and African continent requires a diverse group of actors.” Other keynote speakers included: David Simms, board chair, Opportunity International Network; Alyna Wyatt, team Leader, Financial Education Fund (FEF); and Musapenda Phiri, project coordinator, Zambia’s Central Bank. Throughout the conference, attendees have been receiving information on existing education projects, new education tools and timely topics such as the importance of technology in promoting financial literacy.
As a FEF grant recipient, Opportunity has been piloting a variety of ways to develop and deliver financial education. Utilizing a multimedia approach, we’ve conducted in-country research and focus group discussions to create modules on the importance of debt management, savings and insurance. As a result of these studies, financial literacy videos are being used in Ghana, Uganda, Malawi, and Mozambique to inform clients of ways they can protect themselves from exploitation. These videos also provide our clients with the tools and knowledge they need to effectively manage their finances.
In her remarks, FEF’s Alyna Wyatt emphasized that rapidly changing financial products and services create a greater need for financial literacy. She reported that as a result of the FEF grantees work in eight African countries, 130,000 people have been reached through formal training initiatives and an additional 11 million have been exposed to financial literacy topics and information through a variety of vehicles, including radio and TV broadcasts.
Through the conference presentations and discussions on both the impact and challenges of financial education initiatives in Africa, Opportunity International and FEF seek to reach out to millions more people who could benefit greatly from financial literacy tools in their struggle to lift themselves out of poverty.
This post was written by Shannon McGuire, Opportunity International intern.