The need for greater financial literacy is among South Africa’s main socioeconomic development challenges. It’s an area in which the Momentum Metropolitan Foundation has particular interest, especially in terms of partnering with institutions that work towards empowering communities. One such institution is FunDza Literacy Trust, which, along with the Foundation, has developed Moving Up with the Majolas, an online financial literacy course.
Launched in 2019, the story-driven course is aimed at promoting better financial decision-making among a diverse group of people, aged between 13 and 55. As the story unfolds, we learn about the low-income Majola family, who face a range of challenges. Each part of the course is followed by a section of insights into specific areas of financial literacy.
The first rollout of the course took place between 3 October and 22 November 2019 with a total of 2 800 participants. The 1 194 participants who provided feedback indicated an overwhelmingly positive experience, with 71% reporting that they enjoyed and engaged with the story. According to the course feedback report, many respondents “felt as if they related with the story’s characters and frequently commented on the characters … expressing a mix of admiration, support and exacerbation”. Most impressive, perhaps, was that no negative comments were received. This was likely due to the course being optional, which meant that participants were willing to learn and were grateful for the opportunity.
More than half (52%) of the respondents last year indicated a positive change in their financial knowledge. According to the report, more than 10% commented that the course “would change their behaviour”. This as some noted they “had begun saving as a result of the course, while others noted their wishes of starting a business or studying further”.
Based on this success, and heeding calls from participants for further engagement, the course was rolled out for a second time between April and June 2020. This time, 857 individuals, mainly within the 19-21 age bracket, participated. Unemployed individuals constituted 35.7% of the participants, while school learners made up 29.7%. The highest percentage of participants (66.3%) were from households that earned a gross annual income of below R250 000. Initial analysis of this year’s rollout has offered insight into how digital financial literacy can reach the most vulnerable in society. As such, the 10 winners of this year’s course each received a smartphone and the runners up received literacy packs from FunDza.
The Momentum Metropolitan Foundation and FunDza are particularly pleased by participants having indicated that saving was the most interesting topic of the course. We find this most encouraging because we view saving as integral to financial wellbeing and broader socio economic development.