Last week, LAPO Microfinance Bank decided to take charity home after years of beginning outside. The preeminent microfinance bank has had a robust tradition of marking Global Money Week (GMW), the annual global awareness-raising campaign organised by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the International Network on Financial Education (INFE) to teach young people financial literacy skills, outside its many offices across the country.
“Plan your money, plant your future” was the official theme of GMW2023, which took place on 20-26 March. This theme raises awareness about the importance of adopting a responsible, informed and forward-looking approach to making financial decisions. It also recognises that future individual financial well-being is strictly linked to the health of the planet and society as a whole.
The Week’s focus on empowering youths with critical lifelong financial literacy skills is very much in sync with LAPO MFB’s commitment as a development organisation, enabling economic prosperity through innovative approaches to provide financial, health and social services to stakeholders in a sustainable manner. This “catch them young” strategy is compatible with LAPO’s goals because financial literacy, like physical health habits, is best inculcated early.
The progress made by GMW’s outreach is underscored by the statistics. Since 2012, 176 countries have participated, and 53m children and young people have been reached. The 2021 edition reached a whopping 219m persons, youths and adults and witnessed the participation of 16,000 organisations. LAPO MFB’s consistent participation has contributed to making Nigeria’s presence felt.
The youths targeted by GMW for empowerment through knowledge, skills and attitudes that would help them make sound financial decisions and achieve financial well-being and resilience are mostly outside the organization. And so LAPO MFB has propagated the gospel of GMW to young people through various external activities and events with a sprinkling of in-house activities. In previous years, representatives of the Bank have gone to schools, marketplaces and client locations around the country to sensitize students, the unemployed and workers on basic money management and financial literacy skills.
In 2021 for instance, LAPO MFB commemorated the Week in schools, educating students on the critical importance of good financial habits to help them lead financially productive lives and build financial resilience. These activities were complemented by the deployment of financial literacy adverts on LAPO MFB’s social media platforms, banner adverts on the institutional website, in-branch sensitization initiatives, a webinar, daily financial email nuggets etc.
As indicated, this year, LAPO MFB decided to do things a little differently by focusing in-house on its staff. In addition to the regular outreaches to schools, market fairs and client locations, the bank held a financial literacy seminar/ workshop for staff members. The event was broadcast on social media to facilitate public engagement and participation. But the core targets of the workshop were LAPO MFB staff who were trained on leveraging investment and equity opportunities to build a stable income while not neglecting money management and income growth basics.
The event was marked by enthusiastic LAPO MFB staff present who listened to the guest speaker, Asemota Igiogbe (the Business Development Lead of PicnicSwap Exchange) with rapt attention and contributed robustly to the discussion. Several of them described the workshop as practical and enlightening as the speakers covered the typical financial challenges faced by the average Nigerian in these tough times along with practical steps to tackle them.
The speaker’s core focus was on deploying mindset as an asset to identify and maximize income growth opportunities, focusing on mindset engineering in a structured and sustainable way. He emphasized the importance of financial education through workshops/ seminars, conferences and books, and leveraging investment opportunities.
Based on audience feedback, the major take-home of LAPO MFB staff present was: the importance of self-improvement, being up to date with financial trends, and the willingness to identify and invest in good investment opportunities even with limited resources.