Many people around the globe struggle with finance management and debt. Michael Ochieng Nyawino describes why it is important to teach everyone financial literacy skills to tackle the problem.
In Kenya, we have a serious problem: We have a population of almost 50 million people and a declining unemployment rate nearing 12 per cent; however, more than 40 per cent are still living below the poverty line, with many families struggling to survive on below US$1.00 per day. Too many people are on the verge of running out of money prematurely or are burdened with growing debt. Many adults don’t have a current financial, estate and gift plan to protect themselves and their families, nor do they realize why it’s important to have one. This is not just a local problem, it is an international one.
In many parts of the world, the essential principles to smart money management are not part of the school curriculum and rarely taught at home. Hence, many people – both young and old – don’t have the proper tools to address everyday financial decisions in an informed manner. This jeopardizes their financial stability, with negative impacts on their mental and physical wellbeing. It also makes it difficult to realistically work towards, achieve, and maintain their personal, family and financial goals, let alone enjoy a financially secure, debt-free future.
Education is the Key
Wouldn’t it be great if there was a real solution to reducing financial illiteracy? We at the Christian Community Healthcare Foundation Kenya (COHECF-KENYA) strongly believe the answer lies in education of the people – the general public, educators, financial service providers, non-profit professionals, and government officials. If everyone, including political leaders, is given the opportunity to learn the essential principles to smart money management, it will enable them to better plan ahead and keep their financial house in order and help others to do the same.
The combined problems of high poverty levels with a widespread lack of financial awareness and financial literacy places a large, and growing amount of pressure on families and friends, employers, non-profits and last but not least, the government as the ultimate safety net. Since this is not only a Kenyan problem, but a worldwide one, we are openly sharing our thoughts and ideas that go beyond our national borders and create international alliances. We are also encouraging you to participate in the movement for improving financial awareness and financial literacy in your country.
© COHECF – Kenya
Improving financial awareness and financial literacy (referred below to as IFAFL) can have a major positive impact on:
Education: IFAFL helps to earn the money needed for a high-quality education. Education provides fundamental skills, knowledge, and opportunities to a live successful, happy and productive life.
Healthcare: Advancements in healthcare and technology are helping us to lead longer, healthier, and higher quality lives. IFAFL helps to take advantage of these healthcare advancements by increasing our knowledge and financial capacities to acquire appropriate healthcare for ourselves and families while reducing financial stress, a major cause of health problems.
Agriculture & Food Supply: IFAFL helps to better manage natural resources and better feed and provide for the growing population through advanced education, growing technology and equipment. Thus, higher paying jobs for those moving away from manual labour are created, which in turn help to fuel economic growth and a more sustainable economy.
Economic Empowerment & Jobs: Key drivers for a successful sustainable global economy revolve around every man, woman and child having their basic need covered and to receive encouragement, education and support to live successful, happy and productive lives. IFAFL empowers us to make better informed everyday money decisions by teaching us a new way of looking at financial transactions and life. This new skill set encourages us to obtain better jobs and build a better life for ourselves and our families.
Peace & Freedom from Violence: Lasting peace and freedom from violence will only exist when the people of a country are properly nourished, are healthy, have low or no debt, and where we can raise our families in safety. When the disparities between income levels and wealth are too great, criminal behaviour increases; this gets magnified further when those who are in a growing debt situation cannot earn enough to repay it.
To realize the above, COHECF KENYA works in partnership with financial, educational, private and public institutions to promote financial awareness and financial literacy through training, publications, seminars and symposia, digital and print media. Universities and colleges will be brought on board for research on International Financial Awareness and Financial Literacy, and establish exchange programmes with academic partner institutions abroad.
To learn more about our approach, please refer to our Executive Summary for The Improving Financial Awareness & Financial Literacy Movement in Kenya.