By Rachel Robinson
Among the many incredible opportunities and experiences I had in Uganda, one of the most interesting was with the Capital Markets Authority (CMA) in Kampala. A few weeks ago, Nathan and I had a meeting with Ann Muhangi, who is the Public Education Manager for the CMA. We spoke with her about the work that she and about 6 other people are doing to educate Ugandans about the CMA, investing, general finance, and so much more. She sees first hand the issues in the education system here as well as the effect of having such an incredibly young population.
Many of the economic concerns here involve a people that do not understand savings accounts or even savings. Having experienced a heavy recession and times where even if you saved your money it did not mean that you would have it tomorrow or that it would be worth the paper it was printed on, many people are living in the now, attending to the wants and needs of today without ever looking up and beyond to tomorrow. This has been passed down to the current generation who definitely “appreciate” finer things and a faster pace but who feel that they should have this without the accompanying time, work, or investment that it actually requires. Many of the issues we discussed seemed very familiar. One of the key lessons, Mrs. Muhangi noted, is that “wealth is what you keep not what you earn.”
Some unique initiatives the Public Education department of the CMA has include partnerships between financial journalists and experts in the financial field, awards to encourage journalists to continue to report competitively (apparently the CMA actually hosts the most exciting and well-known awards event in Kampala), investment clubs in schools to encourage students to learn about and practice investing, and Office to Office initiatives that reach out to individuals with high incomes who are not yet investing. These projects all combat work ethic problems, lacking integrity, war-torn history, mistrust, corruption, and underdeveloped creativity. For this generation to save, invest, and find the courage and ingenuity to branch out beyond doing the same thing as their neighbors would be a huge victory for the CMA and for Uganda.