Financial Awareness Raising Programs for Meghri Youth

In September 2014 “Markets for Meghri” (M4M) project started its cooperation with the “Junior Achievement of Armenia” (JAA) NGO. The main aim of this cooperation was to include Meghri young people in the capacity building and financial awareness raising programs implementing by the JAA. This joint project aims to increase the financial management capabilities of young people in Meghri region. Contemporary, non-formal trainings on budgeting, business planning, financial management, credit means were implemented for young people in Meghri.

The small-scale farmers in this region lack viable information and skills for managing their own financial means and take relevant actions on how to calculate their disposable and non-regular income; make short-term and long-term budget; calculate the effective interest rate of the loan; file their taxes or simply understand basic economic and financial terminology. This refers also to young population of the region: they also lack knowledge on how to use financial tools which could end up with undertaking risky financial decisions in the future. Children are growing up in an increasingly complex world. Money is less visible, credit is easy to access and the choice and complexity in financial products is increasing. Nowadays, it is essential that young people, especially in remote areas, are provided with the knowledge, understanding, skills and behaviors to establish good consumer and financial habits from a young age. This is critical to establishing the foundation for their future wellbeing.

Taking into account these factors M4M project along with JAA NGO, for almost one year is implementing the capacity building and financial awareness raising curriculum for Meghri young people.

Nevertheless this is not the only cooperation of M4M in this sphere. From October 28 till 31, M4M, in cooperation with the Central Bank of Armenia (CBA), Financial Service Mediator (FSM), “Kamurj” UCO and “CARD AgroCredit” UCO initiated a study tour in Yerevan for sixteen students from Meghri State College, lecturers and representatives from the “Initiative and Development” NGO. During these four- days event students participated in seminars and study visits hosted by the experts from the above mentioned organizations.

On the first day young people visited the Central Bank of Armenia. During this visit, the experts from the “Consumer Rights Protection and Financial Education Center” of CBA Ms. Sona Lalayan and Arthur Poqrikyan, in a very easy and admissive way for youth, presented the financial system’s structure of the Republic of Armenia, the mechanisms of budget planning, management of assets and liabilities, as well as tools, like “financial assistant” and “calculator” of the www.abcfinance.am website. The participants had chance to practically use “budget planning”, “credit” and “deposit” calculators. They also could get acquainted with the history of CBA, its functions, the history of Armenian currency and other related topics.

On the second day participants visited the FSM office where experts Mr. Ashot Ghochikyan and Lilit Simonyan, in a very precise and obtainable way presented the functions of mediator, the application procedures etc. Also the students were involved in the discussions regarding the main noteworthy points of credit, deposit and insurance contracts.

The students further paid a visit to “CARD AgroCredit” UCO. The Microcredit Department Manager Ms. Ruzanna Harutyunyan and Chief Internal Auditor Mr. Arayik Tsaturyan gave detailed information on credit products and risks associated with financing the businesses from credit sources. The experts also briefed on types of financial reporting and their importance on investment decision making.

The study tour was concluded by the visit to “Kamurj” UCO. The representative of this organization Mr. Aram Arevyan made a presentation about the financial products of “Kamurj” UCO and their chronological developments.

Such initiatives for the youth in the remote regions are of a great significance as they lack opportunities to get familiar with institutions such as CBA or even simply receive relevant financial knowledge. This study tour, to some extent, is part of an informal education, which is more effective than just being in the class”, said Anna Ohanjanyan, the representative from the Initiative and Development NGO.

I am very impressed by this study tour. It gave chance to our youth to get very updated and relevant information on different financial concepts which they will further use as practical tools in their initiatives”, mentioned a lecturer from the Meghri State College.