Investing in Young People
Investing in young people allows us to invest in the long-term security, stability, and growth of our future. We proudly work with community partners that enhance the health and education of young people in the community.
Why we invest in Young People
An investment in young people is an investment in a better future. By making strategic investments in the health & well-being and education of young people, Scotiabank helps position the youth of today to become the community leaders of tomorrow.
A winning idea: promoting financial literacy
According to Scotiabank’s Young People in the Community Index , financial literacy is a pressing issue for youth in the countries where the Bank operates. A partnership between Scotiabank and Junior Achievement Americas (JA) is making financial literacy and life skills courses available to more than 50,000 students across 17 Caribbean, Central and South American countries. Through the program, students receive practical advice on budgeting and planning and learn to manage finances in a way that not only benefits them, but also their families and society.
As part of the program, 1,884 adolescent students participated in “Innovation Camps” in which they dreamed up creative solutions to address business challenges the world faces. Regional competitions followed where the teams we asked to create a financial literacy awareness campaign for young people.
The winning idea
The winning idea from this regional competition came from El Salvador. The all-girl team of accounting students from the Instituto Nacional de Zaragoza — Sofia, Lisseth, Katya, Alejandra, and Gladys — proposed an idea for an app-based business that uses online social networking to teach the importance of financial education and good savings habits to youth. Lisseth explains, “Our app has the slogan "aprender haciendo" [learn by doing]. We want to educate youth about the benefits of saving and then help them put their knowledge into practice.”
With support from JA and Scotiabank, the winning team traveled to Mexico to present their idea at the Mexico International Forum of Entrepreneurs. “It was a privilege to be with more than 400 young people from different countries and learn from role models.” says Gladys.
Following the forum, the girls also visited Scotiabank’s Mexico headquarters. “We learned that a bank is more than just a branch and a teller, it is a large enterprise made up of many diverse teams united by a single objective,” continues Alejandra. “Suddenly, I could see myself in a career as part of a team that worked together to solve problems like financial literacy.”
Coming back home
Lessons learned through the JA/Scotiabank program have profoundly shaped the girls’ outlook on the future. Katya explains, “Our plan as a team is to develop our app with the support of Scotiabank El Salvador, launch it to the public and make it available to all young people in our country.”
More importantly, participating in the program has taught and inspired the girls (and other young people like them) to put their ideas into action. Says Gladys, “I believe that the program conveys to all students the benefits of financial literacy, because it not only teaches us the theoretical side, but it also motivates us to put our knowledge into practice.
The state of youth in Peru
Primary and secondary schools in Peru have strong student enrollment, according to Scotiabank’s Young People in the Community (YPC) Index. Of the 30 countries in the Index, Peru ranks in the top third for school enrollment. Since education often provides a springboard for opportunity and empowerment in adult life, this is a positive sign for the country’s future.
However, widespread school enrollment doesn’t mean that young people in Peru aren’t vulnerable in other areas of their education, such as financial literacy. The YPC Index finds that Peru ranks 29th out of the 30 countries in the Index for youth with bank accounts, an educational indicator that suggests financial literacy for youth is a critical need in Peru.
According to Scotiabank’s Gaby Rodríguez Larraín, Senior Manager, Institutional Relations and Corporate Social Responsibility at Scotiabank Peru, the findings of the YPC index supported the need for action: “Lack of financial literacy has been a problem in Peru for a while. In order to break that cycle, we needed to find a way to empower students and equip them for a successful financial future.”
Leveraging a strength in order to address a challenge
Together with Plan International, Scotiabank developed a program called Formando emprendedores del mañaña (“Forming the entrepreneurs of tomorrow”) in order to build and strengthen financial and entrepreneurial skills.
Says Gaby, “Our partnership with Plan International has worked because we both have the same end goal: improving the economic security of children, adolescents and their families. Working toward that common goal, we’ve been able to develop a new, effective way to teach financial education and entrepreneurship for students aged 7 to 17, setting this generation up for success.”
The program leverages what the YPC Index notes is one of Peru’s greatest strengths — strong student enrollment rates in the formal education system in order to address one of Peru’s biggest needs — financial education and life skills training for young people.
Making a difference
Implementing this initiative has been a large undertaking, including regular training for educational authorities, administrators, school principals, and over 750 teachers. According to Gaby, “In order to equip a large number of students to succeed, you first have to equip their teachers and schools. So we’ve created teacher’s guides and textbooks that meet the requirements of the Ministry of Education for students in each grade. We have also provided seed money for school entrepreneurship programs and provided children with free savings accounts so that students can practice saving.
She continues: “The students obviously benefit the most from this program. But in a way, we’re also helping teachers a lot too—giving them tools to be more empowered in their roles as educators.”
“The scale of this is really important. Over 24,000 young people that have been given financial and life skills through Formando emprendedores del mañaña. We’re making a big difference on the future of an entire generation of Peruvian youth…that’s exciting” says Gaby.
The young people of today will become the community leaders of tomorrow. Understanding the opportunities and challenges facing these young people allows us to effectively invest in their future—which will benefit everyone in the long term. Looking ahead, the insights provided by the YPC Index can help Scotiabank understand the effects of Formando emprendedores del mañaña on the future of society.
Gaby adds, “Ultimately, the Index will enable us and our collaborators to refine our strategy and contribute to solving problems in our society — working together to create a future in which everyone can become better off”.
According to the United Nations Population Fund, there are over 1.8 billion young people in the world today — more than at any other time in history. These young people will grow up to become the leaders, employees and community members of tomorrow, so it’s essential for us to equip them for success now if we hope for them to contribute in the future.
Yet many young people struggle to get a leg up in the world. For example, according to Food Banks Canada, more than one third of the 850,000 Canadians who visit food banks on a monthly basis are children and youth. According to the OECD, socio-economic inequalities, compounded by gender, cultural and geographical discrimination, impede the public health system of Peru. The OECD says young women as well as youth from poor, rural and indigenous communities do not have adequate and equal access to basic health services and information. Meanwhile, education challenges lead to high unemployment rates for young people in Chile and Colombia, which are currently 16.4% and 18.9%, respectively.
Focusing our efforts
Given the challenges facing young people, we are focusing our corporate giving strategy on these issues in the communities where we operate. Ultimately, we aim to channel 70% of our philanthropic support to organizations that concentrate on these issues. This investment in the health, well-being and education of young people will allow us to invest in the long-term stability and growth of our communities while profoundly shaping the lives of tomorrow’s leaders.
Our focus on young people reinforces a commitment to communities that began 185 years ago. Such investments are an important part of how we create a better life for the people that we serve around the world. In 2016 alone, Scotiabank contributed CAD$70 million in donations, sponsorships and other forms of assistance to communities around the world.
In order to maximize our support for young people, we wanted to have a deeper understanding of the challenges currently facing young people in the various geographic areas where we operate.
To help assess the state of health and education of young people in our communities, we engaged with the strategy consultancy GlobeScan and an advisory council of leading external experts on youth issues, drawn from countries across Latin America, the Caribbean and North America. Together, we reviewed, collated and standardized relevant publically available indicators to create Scotiabank’s Young People in the Community (YPC) Index, which will help us better understand the current state of young people in North, Central and South America.
“We see the YPC Index as a guide to help us identify where needs may be greatest,” says Jean-François Perrault, Senior Vice-President and Chief Economist at Scotiabank. “The YPC Index is also a tool to help bring youth practitioners together to improve or create policies that relate to young people, identify gaps in available data or simply pin-point problem areas and benchmark progress going forward.”
The YPC Index will provide a platform for engaging with various partners in the youth development space — including governments, businesses and non-profit organizations — as they work to address these issues. As we track the Index over time, we will be able to measure society’s progress on tackling important youth challenges.
Scotiabank hopes to play a key role in addressing these challenges going forward. However, we also recognize that long term success in these areas depends on actions that are larger than any single organization. We must look at how we, as a collective society, can help move some of the YPC Index’s indicators over the long term. If we all are dedicated to helping young people in our communities, we may be able to make a difference in the future of our next generation.