All too often, good infrastructure goes unnoticed. This is probably one of the reasons why few South Africans know and understand the country’s Central Securities Depository, Strate, however, without it, investors would shy away from South Africa.
Prior to the implementation of Strate in 1999, SA was categorised as one of the worst emerging markets in terms of operational and settlement risk. Trading volumes on the stock exchange were averaging 4,000 trades daily, very thin when this is compared to the 350 000 on average during a month today.
For the past 18 years Strate, South Africa’s Central Securities Depository, has focused on settling securities transactions across South Africa’s financial markets. Today, the organisation is placing a core focus on financial literacy through its consumer education initiative, Strate from the Ground.
According to Dr Merrill van der Walt, Data Scientist at Strate, one of the key elements for Strate from the Ground is to educate communities on the basics of banking and financial matters (a knowledge area that is seriously lacking in marginalised areas), as well as meeting nutritional needs in a disadvantaged community that is food insecure. “The lack of food security is a huge problem for South Africans in rural areas and those of lower socio-economic standing.”
According to a report issued by Statistics South Africa on poverty trends in the country, poor households spend approximately a third (33%) of their income on food. Total food expenditure for poor households is given at R8 485 per annum or R707 per month. It is important to understand that this figure is the proportion that households are able to spend on food. Given current food prices, it is clear that this amount is not enough to secure a sufficient and nutritious variety of food.
“Adding to this harsh backdrop is the bleak reality of constantly rising food and fuel prices, high-energy tariffs and increasing interest rates. These conditions have placed severe pressure on ordinary South Africans who are already struggling to meet their basic household needs”, says Dr van der Walt. With projects such as these, people will be more empowered and educated to make better decisions in accessing basic needs as well as handling their finances.
“At Strate, we embrace innovation and change. The term ‘innovation’ is difficult to define, and although most models centre on technology driven innovation and competitive focus, there is a social dimension to innovation and the role of social interaction,” says Dr van der Walt. “Social innovations are new strategies, concepts, ideas and organisations that meet the social needs of different elements which can be from working conditions and education to community development and health.”
Strate has partnered with several organisations that will make it possible to provide nutritious and organic produce to approximately 50 labourers on a monthly basis while equipping farmers and schools in the area with the practical guidance on finance and banking.
Some pictures of the produce following the December Harvest:
The first annual Finance and Investment Management Olympiad (FIMO) kicked off this year with 825 students, most of whom came from public schools.
The initiative, sponsored as a consumer education project by Strate, was run out of the Finance and Investment Management Department at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) and focused on Grade 11 and 12 learners in Gauteng.
According to Leigh Bevis, Strate’s Head of Stakeholder Relations, the participation by students played an important role in developing critical financial skills and educating the youth, with the ultimate intention of growing South Africa’s investment base. “South Africa’s economic growth is dependent on its investment profile. By nurturing students’ finance and investment skills, we’re empowering them to be educated so that they can contribute to the future success of our economy.”
Looking ahead, the national roll-out of FIMO to Grade 11 and 12 learners is being considered following the success of Olympiad in Gauteng.
The first round of the Olympiad was written on 6 May 2015, and the final round on 12 August 2015. The 2015 winners were:
First Place: Tie between T Sethshedi from Sutherland High School and S Bhana from King Edward VII School
First Place: RI Trusler from Redhill High School
Second Place: N Ambrose from Zakariyya Park Combined School
Second Place: VT Rakgotho from Vuleka Secondary School
Third Place: GJ Dreyer from Pretoria Boys High School
Third Place: LGN Novello from Redhill High School
Fourth Place: NT Nemaungani from Sutherland High School
Fourth Place: KK Mosupyoe from Princess Park College
Fifth Place: AC Mkhontwana from Cosmo City Secondary School
Fifth Place: Dylan Nlzetich from Reddam House
Strate would like to congratulate the winners, as well as all students who participated in the 2015 FIMO. It also wishes to express its gratitude to the educators at the University of Johannesburg as well as to the organiser, Proverto.
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