Within the intricate landscape of Nigeria's economic future lies a critical divide that demands the attention of all stakeholders — the chasm of financial literacy. In a nation with boundless aspirations, the sobering reality looms: a mere 26% of its populace can be considered financially literate, according to the Global System for Mobile Communications Association (GSMA) in its State of the Industry Report on Mobile Money 2023.
Despite Nigeria’s economic potential and its position as Africa’s largest economy, this significant financial literacy gap complicates the nation’s ability to grow at the required pace to alleviate poverty and efficiently distribute wealth. Some of the factors behind the large gap include but are not limited to poor access to financial education; limited awareness and misconception about financial concepts.
GSMA defines financial literacy as the capacity to make informed financial decisions, backed by knowledge, confidence, and competence in utilising financial products. It is within this context that Nigerian Exchange Group Plc (NGX Group) and its subsidiaries: Nigerian Exchange Limited (NGX), NGX Regulation Limited (NGX REGCO), and NGX Real Estate Limited (NGX RELCO) continue to champion financial literacy and inclusion in Nigeria.
The Group’s financial literacy program takes shape through strategic partnerships with key stakeholders within and outside the capital market including the government, non-profit organisations, listed companies, trading license holders, educational institutions, and domain experts. It features an array of workshops, seminars, and online resources, catering to diverse learning preferences and schedules. The program extends beyond education; it is a concerted effort to cultivate financial acumen and inclusivity within the Nigerian economy.
1. Nurturing the Youth: An Investment in Tomorrow
NGX Group recognises that the journey toward financial literacy begins with the younger generation. The Group has orchestrated interactive workshops and seminars that engage participants through practical scenarios, case studies, and group activities. A remarkable testament to its commitment is the celebration of Global Money Week (GMW), where the 2023 theme, “Plan your money, plant your future”, resonates with its overarching objectives. Through collaborations with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), MinieMoney, AIESEC Lagos, and Junior Achievement Nigeria, NGX Group sowed the seeds of financial awareness within the hearts and minds of hundreds of students.
The celebration, which culminated in a Closing Gong ceremony at the Exchange, had the top three winners at the quiz session close the market by sounding the gong and endowed with equity investment. This collaborative endeavour not only educates but also empowers the students, marking their participation in the nation's financial growth. Their prizes, consisting of shares, represent a tangible stake in Nigeria's economic journey. Through initiatives such as supporting the development of innovative inclusive financial products like FGN Savings Bond, product-specific training and workshops delivered by X-Academy, and excursions to the exchange under X-Tour, the Group continues to play a leading role in advancing financial literacy in Nigeria.
2. Harmonising Technology and Education
Incorporating innovation into the fabric of financial literacy, NGX Group introduced "StockTown," a comic book series designed to educate young individuals about investing. Through digitally accessible and engaging materials, the Group aims to spark curiosity and cultivate a lifelong interest in financial growth. During the initial launch of StockTown, the Group Chief Executive Officer, NGX Group, Oscar N. Onyema, OON said, “StockTown is the product of a passionate idea long held by the Group to empower individuals across all levels to make good financial decisions and better their lives now and in the future. In a drastically evolving financial landscape, NGX Group continues to find new ways to communicate the ideas of saving and investment using products available on its platform. We hope this comic, which demonstrates the idea of buy and selling securities in simple terms, can crowd-in the financially excluded, Generation Z, Millennials and all lovers of comics.”
Furthermore, NGX Group’s online resources enhance knowledge dissemination. The Group's website provides dedicated sections featuring educational materials from webinars, seminars, and conferences. The NGX X-Academy, a beacon of learning in Nigeria's capital market and the specialised knowledge platform of the Exchange, implements virtual financial literacy training programs in addition to physical sessions. Designed to bridge knowledge gaps for capital market professionals, investors, and the public, X-Academy accentuates NGX Group's commitment to financial literacy and inclusion.
Recognising the opportunities available through increased penetration of mobile phones and internet access, we launched X-Mobile to provide market participants, especially retail investors, a convenient, faster and real-time access to The Exchange’s activities. X-Mobile is available on the Google Play Store and Apple iOS Store. NGX Group has also leveraged digital platforms to spread the message of financial literacy. On the occasions of 2022 World Investor Week and 2023 Global Money Week, we partnered with social media influencers and media house, Nairametrics to educate over 7,000 Nigerians on investing and personal finance.
3. Strategic Partnerships: Illuminating Avenues of Prosperity
NGX Group’s strategic partnerships underscore its commitment to a transformative future. The collaboration with the Bank of Industry (BOI) is emblematic of a shared vision. This Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was more than ink on paper; it was a pact to unleash the latent potential of the capital market. Through financial literacy programs, market advocacy initiatives, and the promotion of listings, NGX Group and BOI charted a course to deepen the reach of the capital market and empower stakeholders.
Similarly, the collaboration with MTN Nigeria Communications Plc (MTNN) showcases the Group's dedication to leveraging technology for financial literacy, thereby encouraging retail participation in the capital market. The public offering for the sale of MTNN shares stands as a testament to this commitment, a transaction that successfully crowded in over 150,000 new investors into the capital market with 75% of digital participants being women and 85% under 40 years. For the first time in the history of the capital market, investors could access a primary issuance in a few minutes simply from an electronic device through the NGX-sponsored digital platform.
4. Empowering Marginalised Communities
In the ongoing pursuit of bridging Nigeria's financial literacy gap, a remarkable chapter unfolds, illuminated by the power of collaboration. Our partnership with the Women at Risk Foundation (WARIF); a distinguished NGO dedicated to raising awareness about Gender-Based Violence (GBV), has taken our commitment to empower marginalised communities to new heights.
Speaking on this effort, the CEO, NGX, Temi Popoola said, “Our journey began with a profound realisation: the intersection of financial literacy and gender equality has the potential to rewrite narratives of vulnerability into stories of empowerment. Often overshadowed by more visible aspects of abuse, the financial aspect of GBV can silently perpetuate the cycle of dependence and control. Financial literacy emerges as the key to dismantling this cycle. It is not just a transfer of knowledge; it is a transfer of power. Equipping women with financial education equips them with the tools to regain control over their lives.”
Impact Stories and Sustainability
The impact of NGX Group's financial literacy initiative reverberates through success stories. Participants have reported heightened financial understanding and confidence in managing their resources. This upward trajectory signifies a growing sentiment of financial empowerment among retail investors.
NGX Group's commitment to financial literacy radiates through its plans. Collaborations with key stakeholders, including the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and various organisations including NGX trading license holders and listed companies, remain the cornerstone of our strategy to broaden the reach of prosperity.
The CEO, NGX RegCo, Tinuade Awe emphasised, “For us at NGX Group, advocating for and actively promoting financial literacy goes beyond the optics associated with Corporate Social Responsibility, it stands as a fundamental element crucial to our business’s enduring viability. Our achievements are intertwined with the cultivation of financially literate future investors and the bridging of the related educational gaps across our beloved continent, Africa. Through deliberate measures, the Group has embraced the task of confronting this precarious disparity, acknowledging that enriching financial understanding stands as a pivotal means of enabling individuals across different social strata, nurturing economic steadfastness, and propelling comprehensive advancement.”
The financial literacy project of NGX Group and its subsidiaries, NGX, NGX RegCo and NGX RelCo, is a shining example of a corporate initiative that extends its commitment beyond business interests to empower and uplift the Nigerian economy. By providing accessible education and resources, NGX Group has played a significant role in building financial resilience among individuals, contributing to a more financially informed and secure society.
We believe that these initiatives embarked would help broaden the knowledge of the investing public on financial products/ instruments on NGX, whilst providing the opportunity for these investors to grow their wealth, thus strengthening the financial landscape of the Nigerian capital market, and Africa at large.
The views, thoughts and opinions contained in this Focus article belong solely to the author and do not necessarily reflect the WFE’s policy position on the issue, or the WFE’s views or opinions.