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Business View: Consumers need financial know-how

Business View: Consumers need financial know-how

The financial crisis was a wake-up call for consumers in the Middle East, according to Lama Kabbani at Visa. She tells us how her company is working to help.

December 13, 2010 2:44 by

In the Middle East, the programme is anchored on a financial literacy website – which is designed to share financial skills and knowledge with people of all ages. In addition, we have developed a Financial Football video game that tests your financial knowledge while incorporating the fun of a football match and this has been piloted in schools in Dubai with great success.

At the recent Gulf Education, Solutions and Supplies (GESS) exhibition, Visa found an ally in educators who overwhelmingly called for financial literacy to be incorporated in the school curriculum.

In a poll conducted by Visa among education experts and practitioners, an overwhelming majority – 92 percent – were convinced that Financial Literacy in schools should be made compulsory and that it would help teach young people the skills they need to better manage their finances in the future.

Of course this cannot be achieved without the buy in of the teaching profession in the region, who although willing to teach about Financial Literacy, are no less daunted by the prospect than that of their students.

By targeting the education sector, we hope to empower young people, the agents of change, and provide the next generation with the skills and tools to avoid the mistakes of their parents. Already, Visa has reached out to a number of schools across the region and has developed a Financial Literacy Teacher’s Toolkit in English and Arabic which provides fundamental personal finance information on topics such as learning how to plan a budget, preparing for the future, using a credit card wisely and spending responsibly.

Financial Literacy has been an important outreach programme for Visa for more than a decade and we believe that the most important financial tool is not a product – it is knowledge. is the first step in a journey that will clearly take time and investment and requires a significant mind shift to achieve its objective.

Ultimately however, only government and ministry endorsement and a willingness at a federal level to address the lack of Financial Literacy among young people in the region will bring about a meaningful change in how the region approaches financial education in the years to come.

Lama Kabbani is Corporate Communications Manager for Visa.

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