Managing the Future through “I Can Manage My Money”

By Merve Tezel, General Manager, Turkey • Visa

July 22, 2014

It is clear to us that a financially literate population enables more sustainable growth and a less vulnerable economy through better financial decisions, stronger wealth creation potential and less risky behavior. However our research indicates that young people in Turkey are having difficulty understanding financial terms and tools and how they can benefit from these. Our findings further show that most of their financial decisions are based not on knowledge, but rather on hearsay. Then how do we make sure that our youth is financially literate enough to manage their money well and ensure a more sustainable and strong economy for the future?

This is the question that led us to launch Visa Europe Turkey’s CSR project “I Can Manage My Money” five years ago. Through a partnership with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP),Habitat Center for Development and Governance, Republic of Turkey Ministry of Development and with the support of 23 Turkish member banks, I Can Manage My Money has become an industry leading CSR project that trains youth on financial concepts and terminology, budget management and the impact of financial developments on their personal finances. The program is co-funded by our Turkish members who also support us with the program’s public relations and consumer reach. With more than 500 peers as volunteers committed to train young people across 71 cities in Turkey, a total of 35,000 young people have received face-to-face trainings with an estimated halo effect of 350,000 additional impacts in the last 5 years. Our monitoring shows that the training creates a very measurable impact on how much people save, how they plan for big purchases, how confident they feel in managing their budgets and overall increase in their comfort with dealing with financial matters. We have many tangible success stories from trainees such as managing to buy their first professional camera, being able to pay off their family’s debts, being able to save money for summer vacation and language school and being able to pay their rent without support from their families.

We have launched our digital platforms including social media channels and a newly customized web site offering online trainings last December and this had a phenomenal effect on our online reach, almost doubling our total reach with our trainings.

We have built an inspiring training model based on volunteerism and peer education. The program steadily proved its success over the years with its content and engaging model and set an example for Romania, Israel, Bulgaria and many other countries within Visa Europe. Our success shines through in the following; we have been invited to present I Can Manage My Money at the OECD conferences for the last two years in Paris and Istanbul as the lone private sector initiative. Recently, the United Nations Development Programme broadcasted our project video on their official YouTube channel.

As we celebrate the project’s fifth anniversary, we are also succeeding with our vision of triggering a policy change in financial education. I am very proud to share that I Can Manage My Money Project is being recognized and last month was included in the National Strategy for Financial Literacy and Action Plan. Step by step we have been moving towards creating an awareness at both national and international level through our commitment. All these achievements lead us to go even further and further, strive on being recognized at the World Economic Forum in Davos or referenced as a case study on Harvard Business Review. So stay tuned for more exciting news on the program’s development!

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