South Africa has just been hit by one of the most innovative initiatives in the battle to propel the country’s saving and investment culture. This comes in form of a comical movie titled “Smartbucks mind your moolah” which is directed towards young South Africans.
The initiative led by financial services firm Stanlib Asset Management was launched last week and will kick off with a sponsored viewership of over 15000 high school learners across the country. Undertaken in partnership with the Department of Education and Primestars, the initiative has been described as a national financial literacy campaign.
The initiative is befitting for South Africa which has been struggling to jack up its household savings levels. With saving calculated around 14% of GDP, South Africa’s savings rate ranks as one of the lowest in the world. In comparison China’s savings rate is quoted around 50%. This denies South Africa ability to access investment capital from its citizens. An immediate worry is the fact that lack of savings culture means that South Africans are piling up debt and thus exposed to economic shocks.
STANLIB chief economist, Kevin Lings noted that “South African household debt has risen by almost R900 billion in the past 10 years, or at an annual average rate of over 14% a year. In contrast, household income has risen by 10.5% a year over the same time, which means that SA households have lived beyond their means for the past ten years”.
Added Links as a consequence the ratio of household debt to household income has increased from around 52% ten years ago to 75% currently. “Fortunately, interest rates have fallen to their lowest level since 1974, which means that the interest cost of servicing debt has eased. Nevertheless, the increased cost of electricity, transport, food, education and medical services combined with the current low level of personal savings means that households are now especially vulnerable to any further economic shock” said
Smartbucks mind your moolah is geared towards reversing this trend by instilling a culture of savings.
STANLIB CEO Thabo Dloti said “Each year over 550 000 learners write matric and enter the labour market without an education in basic financial skills such as saving and investing. We are facing a social and economic catastrophe if something is not done”
He added that “while ‘Smartbucks’ will educate learners about spending, we ultimately hope it will change their attitude towards money. We want this initiative to grow and develop for years to come, which is why we have partnered with the Department of Basic Education, Primestars and other institutions.”
He said while several campaigns have been undertaken over the years to raise awareness about the importance of saving and proper financial management, few have focused specifically on young people.
Martin Sweet, Managing Director of Primestars, says, “Many South Africans don’t have access to financial information until later in their lives, by which point it may be too late. This campaign is
designed to arm young people with money management skills and encourages them to take these lessons into adulthood. For example, the two main characters in the film are naïve enough to borrow money from a loan shark, and as result have to repay huge interest in addition to the original loan amount. However, later, after learning about proper money management, they are equipped to make informed decisions about their finances.”
“We are excited about this project and trust that we will be able to reach high school learners from different communities, through the cinema experience. As Primestars, we are particularly grateful to all the sponsors of the project – STANLIB, Experian, Bidvest and the National Youth Development Agency – their involvement means that we can execute it on a large scale.”
On consecutive Sundays from 13 May – 10 June 2012, learners will view ‘mind your moolah’ in 14 Ster-Kinekor cinemas across the country, including Gauteng, the Western Cape, the Eastern Cape, the Free State, Limpopo and Kwazulu-Natal.