Learn your financial ABCs with Bank Millennium

Efma feature

23 July 2019

This summer, Efma is celebrating its members’ contributions to sustainable development worldwide. Today we hear from Iwona Jarzębska, Director of Public Relations at Bank Millennium in Poland, who explains the concept behind the bank’s ‘Financial ABCs’ initiative.

Bank Millennium has been serious about its community mission ever since it was established. One year later, in 1990, it set up the Bank Millennium Foundation in order to develop corporate social responsibility projects, including a recent initiative known as ‘Financial ABCs’.

“As a bank we have many years of experience in organizing training in finances, therefore the Financial ABCs project became the natural combination of both competencies. ‘Financial ABCs’ are workshops in finances for kindergarten kids. Because the overall level of financial awareness in Poland is low, we decided that sharing this knowledge is our duty to the community,” says Iwona Jarzębska.

Financial knowledge and understanding is indeed particularly low in Poland, which ranked last in financial literacy among a selection of 30 countries, according to an OECD survey carried out in 2012. Bank Millennium believed that there was no better way to tackle this problem than starting by educating the youngest segment of society.

“Behaviors and attitudes must be developed from the youngest years – this is why Bank Millennium Foundation’s ‘Financial ABCs’ main educational program is targeted at small children. When creating the project concept we consulted economists, teachers, child psychologists and educators, all of whom confirmed our observations. Many of them bemoaned the low level of financial knowledge among children.”

It’s no easy task to engage a group of young children on such a topic. Alongside the workshops held in kindergartens across the country, Bank Millennium created four fictional characters – Sebastian and his three friends – in order to make the learning experience age-appropriate and as fun as possible.

“The funny characters had sufficient adventures to fill a series of illustrated books, in which they explained the rudiments of the world of finances in an easy-to-understand way. Among other things they spoke about where money came from, what coins and banknotes look like, and what credit cards and banks are for.”

The response to the ‘Financial ABCs’ workshops far exceeded the bank’s expectations. Since 2016, over 1,000 workshops have been held across the whole of Poland in 315 kindergartens. As a result, more than 27,000 children have benefited from the workshops.

“During the meetings, the children became immersed in the magical world of finances, finding out how to save money and how to plan expenses. In addition, the workshop games promoted openness, charity, activity and creativity. In this way, we reached our objective, which was to genuinely increase the interest of kindergarten children in financial matters.”

“We hope that the workshop participants, as adults – thanks to the fact that they began their financial education at the age of 4 to 6 - will become conscious participants in the world of finances and will use the stream of numerous offers and proposals in a reasonable way.”

‘Financial ABCs’ goes beyond educating young children and has helped build community and company spirit. Many employees eagerly put forward their own child’s kindergarten to host workshops as part of the program.

“The opportunity to actively take part in the project released many positive feelings, increased motivation and also added warmth to the perception of the company they work for. We plan to continue the project in response to the great interest it evoked and to have the program involve selected kindergartens in Poland. We believe the Financial ABCs are a good step towards raising our children so that they become responsible adults.”

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Keywords : Corporate social responsibility (CSR) , Youth

Geography : Poland