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Financial security is a concern for most people in the world. “How can I make money to support myself and my family, how much can I spend every month, and how can I make sure that there is enough money in case of an emergency such as the sudden illness of a family member?” This is where financial education has answers. It helps people to make sound financial decisions and learn how to generate, safe, invest, and spend money – both at home and in their business.
This is also where Sparkassenstiftung has a lot of expertise being the developmental wing of the German Sparkassen Finanzgruppe (Savings Bank Finance Group) that first introduced financial education with the World Savings Day in 1924.
Today financial education is one of the main focus areas of Sparkassenstiftung in Eastern Africa. The target groups vary from country to country, but usually include adults as well as children, and adolescents. A special emphasis is put on the support of particularly vulnerable groups such as women, young entrepreneurs, refugees and the population of rural areas.
Sparkassenstiftung supports beneficaries in developing the skills required to manage their personal and business finances and be better prepared for handling financial uncertainty. “It’s important to start early”, explains Tanzania’s Country Director Stephen Safe, and narrates the story of how together with their project partner KARUDECA they recently brought financial trainings to over 3,200 primary and secondary school pupils in the region of Kagera. “Now they know how much they can spend every month, how to budget their money, and how to save it for future personal projects. This is a very important life skill.” It is not only in Tanzania Sparkassenstiftung together with its partner organisations implements financial education in schools: also in Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda children learn how to save, and savings clubs in schools are founded.
Also, Sparkassenstiftung Rwanda in partnership with AMIR developed an adult product named Tinyuka Wigire Munyarwandakazi for women from 18 to 65 years of age who have a challenge of accessing finance (loans) without collateral like physical assets. This product helps women to access loans without necessarily having to present collateral but instead will use their accumulated micro savings as collateral and be able to access 70% of needed loan amount at a very low interest rate. Those women also are trained on how to save, Budgeting, debt, and loan management. So far Tinyuka Wigire Munyarwandazi has reached 5,800 women in 30 institutions, 2000 have already took loans of about 340 million Rwandans Francs.
An approach very popular with adults and Sparkassenstiftung’s partner organizations are the Business Games. Depending on the characteristics of the target audience, the focus is either on saving (Savings Game), on managing a micro business (Micro Business Game), or a farming venture (Farmers Game). In the 2-day to 4-days simulation trainings, trainees acquire essential skills that help them identify problems and analyze correlations. “It’s a playful way to learn how to improve the success and sustainability of their enterprise”, says Edith Niyuhire, a Business Games trainer from Bujumbura. And Mrs. Bernadette, one of the 1,700 Game participants in 2019 in Burundi, adds “The Micro Business Game helped me to master my business finances. Now I am able to receive loans to strengthen and expand my business.”
Despite of the success of the Business Games, Sparkassenstiftung consistently identifies new target groups and develops new tailor-made financial education training programs together with its partner organizations. New ventures include training courses on financial education for the general population and entrepreneurs in rural areas together with Tanzania Communication and Development Center (TCDC) and Savings and Credit Co-Operative Union League of Tanzania (SCCULT) in Tanzania, a concept for cooperation with the Ministry of Commerce in Rwanda to promote entrepreneurship and financial education for micro and small entrepreneurs, and a rural finance education program for hill cooperatives in collaboration with the Ministry of the Interior, Patriotic Training and Local Development, in Burundi.