Opinion piece by: Russel Morena, SAIGA Chief Executive Officer

Presently, many among the few that do some form of work mainly generate income only to spend it all. Thereby impacting negatively on their financial freedom.

Countless among the plus sixty per cent un-employed youths got afforded some stipends. But most got overcome by the desire for endless consumption. 

In the meantime, leaving nothing for tomorrow was the norm across the board. It is a state of affairs that should be worrisome. There ought to be a deliberate campaign that encourages a culture of saving. Overall, South African youth should be the focus.

Why make the young the centre of attention?

It is owing to estimates showing that seventy-five per cent of the African population is under the age of thirty-five. Therefore, saying the young are the future ought not to be just a nice thing of lip service. 

In a deliberate drive, the spirit of saving among young ones of Africa should nurture an environment that improves the fortunes of a nation and the chance of survival for future generations.

Excuses such as those of being poor or unemployed do not hold to a large degree. Some facts ought to get placed facing up on the table.

First, South Africans, in general, substantially saved less than their peers in the poor South African Development Community, sub-Saharan Africa and all BRICS nations.

There were positives from which to learn.

Geopoll.com recently published outcomes of a study titled Money: How the Youth in Africa Earn, Spend, Save and Invest. The countries covered were Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ghana, Nigeria, and Cote d’Ivoire. Surveyed were respondents aged thirty-five and under who answered questions seeking to establish how the youth engaged with financial services.

At eighty-four per cent, Nigeria had the highest investment culture among the youth. These saved and invested their money in property. About fourty two per cent went to business and thirty-four to farming.

Secondly, there is a challenge of excessive consumption in the country. South Africa rank the sixth-largest consumer of alcohol in the world (WHO). Statistics show young people are drinking from as young as 13 years of age. Whilst increased appetite in consumption means big profits for producers of products consumed, the habits eat on what could be a savings budget. To a certain degree, it also negatively impacts growth and social life of a young person.

The above points to the fact there is money to consume alcohol, at times in a binging format, yet there is none for saving or investment.

Should things continue unchanged for the better, then the present welfare of youth is at stake and looks bleak into the future.

A youth saving and investing money could have positive outcomes for the country’s economy. 

To merely blame the young is not enough. That is because such an approach does not address the root cause of the problem. 

The time has come to lay the blame at the door of parents or elders in the family. 

Cast the net wide to include those supposed to play the guardian role in the community. 

Last year during Savings Month, Prem Govender said financial management starts at home. 

“We need to think about what we are teaching our children.” 

Govender is chairperson of Sasi – the SA Savings Institute- and the Financial Services Consumer Education Foundation.

Getting credit or a credit extension in South Africa was too easy, negating the culture of saving. 

Meanwhile, also needing changing is the common conception that a lot of money got sought to start saving. Professionals in the banking and investment sector say that is not the case.

Savings can start from as little as R50 and gradually get increase. The willingness and commitment to save were most important.