VMBS launches youth ambassador programme to drive financial literacy

BY ABBION ROBINSON
Business reporter
robinsona@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, December 04, 2019

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Eight tertiary-level students were officially inducted as the first cohort of Victoria Mutual (VM) Group's Financial Education Training to Empower (FETE) Youth Ambassador Programme, in a ceremony held on Monday at Victoria Mutual Building Society head office on Half-Way-Tree Road in Kingston.

According to chief executive officer of VM Wealth Management and VM Investments Limited, Rezworth Burchenson, the main objective of the programme is to empower students to achieve financial independence.

“What we find is that there is a generation that is coming up that doesn't really fully grasp the importance of saving, investing and budgeting — the core principles around achieving financial wellness. This is not being taught in the formal system and if it's not being taught, how can [VMBS] fill that void — that is the intent of the programme,” Burshenson told the Jamaica Observer.

The first cohort, which will run for a year, includes seven students from The University of the West Indies (UWI) and one from the University of Technology (UTech).

The ambassadors will be trained to become knowledgeable about VM products and services and to act as financial advisers to assist and improve other students' financial literacy at their respective university campuses.

“I think it's very important to understand finances, especially as a college student. I am the firstborn in my family and I want to make sure that my younger sibling and my dad will be OK, because recently we went through a small crisis and now funds are low. I want to make sure that in spite of that situation, we can still bounce back and be prepared for his retirement, and I can be able to look after my future family,” UTech student and VM Group FETE ambassador Harta-Lee Gutherie told the Business Observer

Shamar Wedderburn, president of UWI's Students Today, Alumni Tomorrow (STAT) Ambassador Corps echoed similar sentiments.

“As tertiary education students, we're often called to be the change that we wish to see. Even if we don't have ambitions to affect that on national and international stage, it starts from us, [our] peers, [our families], and therefore it's very important for us to start to get involved and to be ambassadors of change,” he said.

The VM Group frequently lends it's support to the UWI STAT Ambassador Corps, a student organisation with the mandate to provide service, leadership and to support the interests and traditions of the UWI, students and alumni.

Burchenson further indicated that while the programme has begun with the two universities, the group aims to target and induct youths islandwide.

“Jamaica's rate of growth can accelerate if more people participate in the formal financial system, so that's what we're trying to achieve by this initiative. Too many persons in 2019, who are well educated, are making subpar investment decisions, and we believe it's a part of our responsibilities and our mission to change that narrative,” he said.


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