Bulgarian students prove strong financial literacy skills

Brussels May 14, 2011 – JA-YE Europe and Citi Foundation announced team SMG Bank from Bulgaria as the winner of the JA-YE Europe Banks in Action Challenge, a European online competition designed to increase the financial knowledge and skills of students.

The Bulgarian students competed against 2,034 students from 12 countries, while managing a virtual bank during 30 business quarters. The Banks in Action students have been working together to run their own computer simulated bank they have been assuming the role of bankers, making key decisions for their virtual organisations to attract customers, distribute loans, set interest rates and decide on how to market their company.  Over the last few months the fledgling virtual banks have not only had to attract customers but they’ve also had to contend with the competition – other Banks in Action teams who were all striving to be the best in Europe.

The second place went also to Bulgaria team Genex and the third place went to the team MAKO of Poland. The team SMG Bank has also submitted the best solution to the Citi Business Dilemma contest that was a component of the Banks in Action Challenge.

According to a recent survey of 517 European business leaders, conducted on behalf of JA-YE Europe, 70 per cent of respondents said their countries were doing a poor job developing financial skills among young people.

In today’s economic climate, business has a responsibility to contribute to educating our young people to make sound financial decisions. Whilst politicians need to take steps to improve financial literacy teaching in schools, business also needs to play its part by supporting programmes designed, through mentoring, volunteering and practical schemes, to bring financial experience into the classroom.

The ‘Banks in Action’ programme sponsored by the Citi Foundation is a particularly good example of learning by doing for the younger generation. It teaches secondary school students the principles of the banking industry and challenges them to come up with innovative products and services in a competitive environment. It is taught by teachers with the support of volunteers from the business community.

“At first we only guessed the impact the decisions we made would have on the bank we were running, but as we learned to look at trends and events that affected our market place, we started to make more informed and hence better decisions for our business”; explains Banks in Action student Yuliyan Savov (from the winning SMG Bank team). 

“Our studies show that very hands-on experiential learning that gives students a taste of the real world well before they leave school helps bring business and schools closer together and helps produce a better-skilled pool of potential employees and entrepreneurs later on and not only that…students will enjoy school more and they will see the relevance of what they are studying; and they will make more informed choices,” said Caroline Jenner, CEO of JA-YE Europe.

Notes to Editors

JA-YE Europe is Europe’s largest provider of enterprise education programmes, reaching 3.1 million students in 38 countries in 2010. Funded by businesses, institutions, foundations and individuals, JA-YE brings the public and private sectors together to provide young people in primary and secondary schools and early university with high-quality education programmes to teach them about enterprise, entrepreneurship, business and economics in a practical way. The JA-YE Company Programme is recognised by the European Commission Enterprise Directorate General as a ‘Best Practice in Entrepreneurship Education’.

Citi Foundation
The Citi Foundation is committed to the economic empowerment of individuals and families, particularly those in need, in the communities where we work so that they can improve their standard of living. Globally, the Citi Foundation targets its strategic giving on its priority focus areas: Microfinance and Microenterprise, Small and Growing Businesses, Education, and Financial Education and Asset Building. The Citi Foundation works with its partners in Microfinance and Microenterprise and Small and Growing Businesses to support environmental programs and innovations. Additional information can be found at www.citifoundation.com.

Media Contact:

Diana Filip
Phone: + 32 2 735 97 20
Mobile: + 32 485 125 969
Email: diana@ja-ye.org  

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