Students from across Lagos State were at the Nigerian Stock Exchange in March to commemorate Global Money Week. Solomon Elusoji, who was there, reports

On a mild morning in March, students from primary and secondary schools across Lagos State milled into the premises of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) on Customs Street, Lagos. It was Global Money Week and the NSE, as it has been its tradition for several years, had invited them to update and improve their financial intelligence.

Global Money Week is a financial literacy and inclusion initiative that takes place annually in March and is coordinated by Child and Youth Finance International (CYFI). The goal is to teach children and youths about money matters through fun and interactive activities. So, every year, the NSE makes it a duty to join a growing global audience to take action to create awareness, challenge out of date financial policies and give young people the tools and inspiration they need to shape their own future.

Annually, the NSE marks the Global Money Week by hosting series of educational programmes aimed at engaging young people in knowledge sharing about how money works, saving, investing, creating livelihood, gaining employment and entrepreneurship. Between 2014 and 2016, according to a report from the NSE, the Exchange was able to directly reach over 3,033 students and pupils from over 44 secondary and primary schools with an indirect effect on over 6,000 young people across its operating environment.
The activities for the week usually include excursions to the trading floor, interactive sessions with the NSE’s senior management, the sounding of the closing gong, financial literacy fair and school outreach programme. This year’s was not going to be different.

Thirty minutes before noon, the NSE’s Event Centre was packed with students and their teachers. The day was kicked off by the NSE’s Head of Corporate Services, Pai Gamde, who gave the opening remarks. She noted that the event – which was designed to teach young students financial intelligence – has a strategic importance to the NSE. “We are playing our part in building a financially savvy generation,” she said.

Gamde’s point – that the NSE is playing its part – can be proved by the NSE’s efforts, over the years, in educating investors, market professionals and the general public about responsible investing and sustainable capital formation. Between 2015 and 2016, the NSE conducted over 250 programmes across Nigeria, including school outreach sessions, seminars and workshops, to educate investors, market participants and the general public about responsible investing and sustainable capital formation, reaching about 20,000 people.

Also, in 2000, the NSE launched the Nigerian Stock Exchange Essay Competition, which challenges senior secondary students to develop the personal financial knowledge needed to make real world financial decisions. In developing the entries, students are encouraged to consider real world economic events and trends, conduct research, develop investment knowledge, and in the process gain the skills to prepare for their financial future. The NSE Essay Competition, according to an NSE report, has inspired over 37,000 young people in more than 7,000 schools across Nigeria to showcase what they have learned about the financial market.

The first lecture, titled ‘Learn, Save, Earn’, was given by the NSE’s Head of Market Surveillance, Abimbola Babalola. He dug into the history of money, carefully detailing the importance of money in modern economy. He advised the students to invest in their education, so that they can acquire skills that can help them earn money. However, he stressed the importance of spending money wisely, pointing out that it was wiser to spend on assets (things that appreciate in value) rather than liabilities (things that depreciate in value after acquisition).

“When it comes to spending, you must always ask yourself, ‘what are my needs’, you must have a budget,” he said.
Babalola went on to elaborate on modes of investments. Briefly, he described how to invest in the stock market (and how it works), the idea behind buying shares, taking part in mutual funds or investing in real estate and other profitable ventures. “Financial literacy is something that we should take seriously, because you will always need it,” he said.

The Global Money Week event hosted by the NSE was sponsored by First Bank Nigeria, Access Bank and non-profit student organisation, AIESEC. So, the next three lectures were given by representatives of these organisations.
First Bank was represented by its Youth Product Manager, Adetokunbo Elliot, who outlined all the bank’s products for young people, from cradle to adulthood. Kid’s First Account is designed for kids between the ages of 1 and 12, while Me First Account serves kids between the ages of 13 and 17; Xplore First Account is for young people between the ages of 18 and 24. She also encouraged the children to advise their parents to invest in stocks for them, while urging them to acquire a money management mentor.

For Access Bank, it was its Head of Children Banking, Ayodeji Akinbobola, who showed up. He shared the story of a young man who lived an ostentatious lifestyle while working at a bank. But, after working for eight years, he was sacked and paid over three million naira as compensation allowance. But, because he had taken out loans, including one for a brand new car just a year earlier, he left the bank with a meagre sum of N198,000. “For the next six months, his life was messed up,” Akinbobola said.

Akinbobola’s story was told to show the students the need to adopt a savings culture, even from a very early age. He went on to introduce his bank’s Early Savers Club programme to the students and encouraged them to join.

The Country Director at AIESEC Nigeria, James Akume, ended the session by giving a talk around the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). One of the SDGs involves the provision of quality education to all and sundry, and financial education, which was being doled out at the NSE on the day, is an essential component.

Then, it was time to head to the 8th floor of the NSE building, which houses the Exchange’s trading floor. At the lobby, one of the students, Edgar Ebiebie, who had no knowledge of what the NSE does before coming, told THISDAY that he had learnt so much from the series of lectures that had been delivered. “Now I know that I can have a bank account and decide to buy shares which will give me a stake in companies that I choose.”

On the trading floor of the exchange, the students were introduced to seasoned stockbrokers who took time to explain what the NSE does on a daily basis, and why it is important to the Nigerian economy. Since its inception in 1960, the NSE has engendered both financial stability and inclusive economic development by being the preferred means of raising capital for Nigerian organisations seeking to compete both regionally and globally. While providing equal access to local and global investors, the NSE has also helped in positioning the Nigerian Capital market as a vehicle for prosperity to both investors and listed companies.

At the end of the proceedings, three students were chosen to climb the podium for the bell-ringing ceremony which signals the end of trading for the day. The students were: Olasubomi Gbenjo, from Good Shepherd Schools, Umeh Angel from Sacred Hearts School, and Sidikat Olajuwon from City of Knowledge Academy. Olajuwon, effervescent and with much gusto, went on to ring the bell, ending the day’s and, as it turned out, the month of March’s trading activity. “I will like to thank you for the opportunity given to me to sound the closing bell,” she said, addressing the stockbrokers on the floor, “and I will also like to appreciate you for the interactive session you had with us.”

Some of the schools which attended the NSE event include: Olivesfield School, Merc King’s School, Shining Lord’s College, Divine Step College, Sacred Heart College, Excellent Foundational College, City of Knowledge Academy, Cayley College, Greensprings School, and Good Shepherd Schools.

PHOTO CAPTION
1, L-R: Country Director, AIESEC, James Akume; Head, Corporate Communications, Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), Olumide Orojimi; Olasubomi Gbenjo of Good Shepherd Schools; Acting Head, Corporate Services Division, NSE, Pai Gamde; Sidikat Olajuwon of City of Knowledge Academy; Umeh Angel of Sacred Heart College; Head, Children Banking, Access Bank Plc; Ayodeji Akinbobola; Team Lead Liability Generation, First Bank Limited; Maxwell Ezenwa; CSR Analyst, NSE, Boluwatiwi Omidiji; and Head, Market Surveillance, NSE, Abimbola Babalola, at the Closing Gong ceremony in commemoration of the Global Money Week