This is a story of success of the Opportunities for My Community Project, which links remittances, education and savings to promote economic and human development in Guatemala.
The path to financial independence begins with proper savings habits. Therefore, the Financial Educators of the Opportunities for My Community project have made an effort to inspire youth to begin saving in Guatemala. Thanks to the Financial Educators, many children have opened accounts to formalize their savings in the banks and cooperatives that are partnering with the project.
Motivating Youth to Save
Of the total financial advising sessions provided to youth, 20 percent are under the age of 12 and come into the financial institution with their adult relatives who are conducting financial transactions. Such is the case of Erik, a 6-year-old boy who lives with his mother, Marta, and younger brother, Diego. Erik’s father, who lives in the United States, sends money in order to support his family and provide them with funds to build a house.
Erik usually accompanies his mother to the cooperative credit union Salcaja, located in the municipality of San Juan Ostuncalco in the Guatemalan Western Highlands, where they speak with a project Financial Educator about the benefits of saving. During one such conversation, Marta realized that she had opened a savings account in Erik’s name many months ago but had never used it. At the end of the advising session, Erick said he wanted to start using his account. “Thanks to the Financial Educator, I understood that we can achieve many goals if we save. Recently, we have had many unexpected expenses because Diego was diagnosed with autism and I see savings as a way out. I am going to teach my sons to save so that they feel safe,” Marta expressed.
Erik shared that he asks his mom for some of the money his dad sends so he can deposit it into his account. He said, “with this money that I am saving, I will give it to my mom and dad to help my little brother.”
Savings Campaigns for Children
Children are a target audience for the Momostenango branch of Cooperativa Salcaja, one of the project sites. For this reason, the branch launched a campaign titled, “The Classroom that Saves the Most,” which promotes savings among children and adolescents in alliance with schools in the municipality.
The campaign benefited from the support and technical advice of the project’s Financial Educator, who worked with the Cooperative team on the content and design of materials.
As a first step, children and adolescents are motivated to open a savings account by means of three special prizes: a piggy bank, a sticker, and a pin. Second, the cooperative organizes a competition to determine which classroom saved the most. At the end of the month, students go to the branch with their teacher to deposit the contents of their piggy banks and the classroom that saved the most wins a party to celebrate Children’s Day.
As another example, Cooperative Yaman Kutx contributes to financial access for youth by having a permanent counter at their main branch in Jacaltenango which is exclusively for kids.
The branch has also celebrated Children’s Day with the support of the Financial Educator, who organized fun activities for kids. The celebration served as an opportunity to educate youth at the branch about the importance of savings, inspiring them to save in order to fulfil their dreams.
Youth outreach is a cross-cutting issue for the project in terms of integrating components and achieving programmatic objectives. By providing financial education and access to youth, the project demonstrates its ability to simultaneously enhance knowledge and wealth, especially among vulnerable sectors. The project supports initiatives aimed at promoting financial education, access, and inclusion among youth in order to contribute to Guatemala’s human and economic development.