A public awareness campaign designed to promote financial literacy and educating consumers about best financial practices with Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene as its patron will be launched in October.
The National Treasury together with the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) and the National Consumer Financial Education Committee (NCFEC) will launch the Money Smart Week South Africa (MSW SA).
In announcing that the Minister will be the patron of MSW SA on Friday, Treasury said the Minister will ensure that the MSW SA is accorded maximum support and commitment from both the public and private sector.
“MSW SA is a public awareness campaign designed to promote financial literacy and educate consumers about best financial practices and management through a weeklong campaign of different activities and events,” it said.
It added that free educational seminars and activities aimed at raising awareness that financial education is accessible and readily available will be provided.
“The events will showcase to consumers that reputable institutions and individuals are available to provide informed advice, and that controlling their financial situation can have a significant impact on their future.”
The MSW SA will create an “education corridor” along the M1 and N1, with key focus areas being Mamelodi, Alexandra, Tembisa and Soweto.
The Treasury said the province of Gauteng has been chosen as the trial province due to the fact that it is the most densely populated province and is home to South Africa’s financial hub.
By making use of lessons learned from this pilot, it is envisaged that MSW ultimately becomes a national event taking place on an annual basis.
“During the said week, schools, churches, businesses, government entities, NGOs and any other public groups along this route, will be encouraged to host financial education programmes relevant to their communities. Industry players and other civil society organisations will be required to support initiatives by providing the necessary activities and resources.”
It added that this approach will bring education to South Africans at the places they frequent, rather than expecting them to go out of their way to attend workshops at designated conference venues.
Treasury noted that South African financial consumers generally have limited resources and skills to understand the complexities of financial products and services.
“Compelling consumer issues in South Africa that have added to the sense of urgency for consumer financial education initiatives include the inability to evaluate the appropriateness of financial products in relation to personal circumstances; predatory lending practises; high levels of consumer debt; low saving rates; proliferation of pyramid schemes and financial scams; and limited knowledge of recourse mechanisms.”
Treasury said that for as long as people have relatively low levels of financial education, they will be prey to exploitation.
“The success of the MSW SA will depend on it receiving the necessary support and the active participation of a range of stakeholders to amplify publicity and awareness amongst South Africans and ensure that high quality and un-biased information and activities are provided.”
Treasury will provide further details on the MSW SA in due course.