At the first ever Clinton Global Initiative meeting on the Middle East and Africa, I reported out one of our recently completed CGI Commitments. Notably, our work we are doing around financial literacy and financial inclusion with the Peace Corps.
The Peace Corps began its work in South Africa in 1997 – a few years after the formal end of apartheid – partnering with the Department of Education to build capacity in the areas of teaching, learning and community service.
Today, 127 Peace Corps Volunteers are serving in the areas of education, health, and HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention. With the legacy of apartheid decades behind us, the Volunteers have since expanded their role to include economic education and financial literacy initiatives.
According to a baseline study of financial literacy commissioned by the Financial Services Board of South Africa, for example, less than half of respondents in South Africa reported having a household budget and of those that did, 43 percent had trouble staying within their budget.
In 2008, Operation HOPE and HOPE Global Initiatives committed to train and mobilize 200 Peace Corps Volunteers to bring financial literacy, dignity, and entrepreneurship training to ten thousand South African children, young adults, and women over the following two years. Today, I am proud to share that this commitment is now complete, having far exceeded our expectations.
All Peace Corps Volunteers were trained to deliver the Banking on Our Future financial literacy and empowerment curriculum in their villages. These award-winning courses provide students with the tools they need to take control of their financial futures.
Since its launch in South Africa in June 2007, Operation HOPE has gone on to expand to seven out of the country’s nine provinces. Our partnership with existing Peace Corps volunteers working in remote villages enabled our training to engage young people and women in smaller rural South African communities that may otherwise have been out of reach.
On completion of our CGI commitment in April 2013, HOPE had recruited approximately 2,000 HOPE Corps volunteers in South Africa and empowered nearly 41,000 young people and adults across the country with the knowledge and skills needed to foster financial independence. This work continues today through our ongoing partnership with the Peace Corps in South Africa.
The best of our work, is yet to come.