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Blog: Improving Financial Literacy From the Ground Up

As many as 90% of business failures around the world are due to poor financial management. Not marketing or labour problems, but simple, old-fashioned bad management. So how do we resolve this problem? We go back to basics and concentrate on financial literacy from an early age.

 

Too many individuals, young and old, simply do not have a basic understanding of things like budgets, inflation and interest rates. Although it’s unrealistic to expect everyone to possess sophisticated financial knowledge, some financial know-how is essential for making important life decisions related to money.

 

Building personal financial capabilities early in life can give people the foundation for financial well being in the future. Schools are an important channel to improve financial literacy. Studies in the U.S. have shown that financial education, when done properly, leads to an improvement in financial behaviour.

 

But there is still a long way to go. According to a survey of 13 million U.S. high school students, only one in six received mandatory financial education. And only 17 states require personal financial content to be included in educational curricula.  

 

Of course, people want to make good financial decisions that set them up for success, but many have never had the opportunity to learn how. For instance, a significant number of American adults can’t pass a basic financial literacy test with three questions on stocks, interest rates and inflation.

Here’s a sample question:

 

Suppose you had $100 in a savings account and the interest rate was 2% per year. After five years, how much do you think you would have in the account if you left the money to grow?

 

  • More than $102

  • Exactly $102

  • Less than $102

 

Although 43% earned scores of three, meaning they correctly answered all the questions, and another 36% received scores of two, 21% got only one or zero questions right. Across all households, the average score was 2.2. Considering that the questions are relatively simple, those scores demonstrate why financial literacy needs to be prioritized by governing bodies, individuals and organizations throughout the world. (The correct answer in the sample question, by the way, is more than $102.)

 

In Canada, the Ontario Working Group on Financial Literacy concluded that students need to be financially literate to make more-informed choices in a complex and fast-changing financial world. Financial literacy education provides a critical set of lifelong skills, the report added. To that end, the group recommended that teachers be given professional training and resources to increase their knowledge of financial literacy topics that can be passed on to students. In addition, the report suggests that parents and families be invited to participate in the development of their children’s financial literacy education.

 

Financial literacy can be a hard sell for educators, who may not see the importance of adding it to the curriculum. But it is an important skill to help set young people up for success throughout their lives.

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Seeds of Change: Women Entrepreneurs and the Wellness Sector

Women entrepreneurs are drawn to the wellness and healthy living sector. As consumers of every generation increasingly focus on health and wellness, female entrepreneurs and business leaders will be big beneficiaries.

Women-Owned Businesses Soar

Each day, women launch around 850 new businesses in the U.S., and the number of firms headed by women has increased by more than 40% since 2007. Women are now the majority owners of an estimated 11.6 million businesses in the country—39% of all U.S. businesses — according to the 2017 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report.

Healthy Growth in Wellness Sector

The growth in women-owned companies is marching in unison with another major trend — the rapid expansion of the healthy living sector. According to data from the Global Wellness Institute, the wellness industry grew by 10.6% worldwide between 2013 and 2015 and accounts for revenue of $3.72 trillion on a global basis. It is now a key part of the second-largest sector of women-owned businesses in the U.S., following services such as nail and hair salons and pet services.

See the full article of CI executive director Denise Bedell’s latest work for ThisIsCapitalism.com:

Seeds of Change: How Women Owners Are Driving Business Growth in the Wellness Sector

3 Tips for Success From Minority Entrepreneurs

Minority-owned enterprises made up more than 50% of the 2 million new businesses started in the United States in the past 10 years, according to the US Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.  There are now more than 4 million minority-owned companies in the US, boasting annual sales of around $700 billion, altogether.

As the US Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship noted, there is still a disparity in access to capital and entrepreneurial development opportunities for minority-owned firms. “Though minorities make up 32% of our population, minority business ownership represents only 18% of the population.”

Minority entrepreneurs face a unique set of challenges in navigating the path to business success. Three minority entrepreneurs in Calgary, Alberta, shared their advice in a recent article in the Calgary Journal.  Eddie Richardson, president of Genesis Basketball; Joyce Okunsi, CEO of Joyce’s Closet; and Beni Johnson, founder of 10at10 media platform have all launched successful businesses in the face of discrimination and financial barriers.

  1. Don’t let stereotypes define you

“Whenever I was given a job or a task I would always try to be the most educated on it.” said Johnson. “People were racist in their ways. If something does not look like you, people get afraid of it, so it was a combination of many things.”

  1. Don’t let barriers stop you

“In fashion, I faced many barriers. I had to work twice as hard to prove my credibility as a stylist. Because I am a black woman, I was excluded from many things that I should have been a part of.” said Okunsi.

  1. Don’t forget that your experiences are valuable

“I’ve worked through a lot to get to where I am and I still have a lot ahead of me,” said Richardson. “I hope that my story inspires others to never settle and to push through adversity because anything is possible.”