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Empowering poor children with financial literacy

Kazi Mahmood / Khmer Times Share:

With the theme ‘Maybank Cares – Impact, Engage and Empower’, Maybank Cambodia rolled out its financial literacy campaign at five different locations in the country aiming at promoting prudent management of finances among youngsters. One of the beneficiaries is People Improvement Organisation (PIO), located in Stung Meanchey commune in the southeastern part of Phnom Penh. Kazi Mahmood writes that the PIO-Maybank partnership will help build a responsible and financially inclusive society among underprivileged children and their parents.

Many fear that charity in some parts of Cambodia, including the helping hands in Strung Meanchey commune, on the fringe of Phnom Penh city, risk creating a latent and laid back attitude among the younger generations.

To quote author Andy Mulligan who said “My fear is that charity closes down intelligent thinking about injustice” would seem right, but Maybank’s Financial Literacy Day does exactly the opposite.

While too many freebies and aid risk shutting creative, imaginative minds thus perpetuating the injustices the underserved people go through in their daily lives, this programme is designed to empower them.

For the youngsters of the People Improvement Organisation (PIO) the Maybank Financial Literacy Campaign – aiming at promoting prudent management of finances – might serve as an impetus, emancipating them to fight the same social and economic inequalities.

The numerous classes and activities under the programme themed ‘Maybank Cares – Impact, Engage & Empower’, will provide them with a tool for the future. It might guide them to make the right decisions that may change their lives and help strengthen their community.

The PIO students had the helping hand of a globally renowned activist for Cambodian children and winner of the CNN Heroes award, Noun Phymean.

Ms Phymean is the founder of the PIO school which is nestled a stone’s throw away from the infamous waste dump where many foraged for a living in the not so distant past.

Her support for Maybank’s financial literacy programme and her unrelenting fight for the underprivileged children will inspire the students. PIO was established on the basis of building resources for the community by providing education.

And the financial literacy activities, followed by the students attentively on that Saturday afternoon offers a glimmer of hope.

Though the Stung Meanchey commune has evolved and its economic activities are no more centred on the dumpster, it still has a deep impact on the people living in the surrounding areas. A life-size graffiti, the dumpster rises on the horizon as a monument depicting the past.

The PIO school is located a few blocks away from the famous Pour un Sourire d’Enfant (PSE) establishment.

PSE was created to alleviate the misery of the children, the main victims of decades of war and destruction in the country. Their future was limited to scavenging on rubbish dumps or wandering the streets. And PSE has changed the commune’s future. Now, PIO and Maybank might just add more value to the children’s lives.

Posing with a book on financial literacy Photo: Jean-Francois Perigois

Accompanied by Dr Mok Sarom, deputy director general, Directorate General of Education, Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports, Em Kamnan, director of Legal Department, National Bank of Cambodia and Ms Noun, the Maybank CEO Mohd Hanif Suadi said at Maybank, creating a sustainable, profitable and responsible business goes hand-in-hand with the welfare and wellbeing of the community.

“We know for a fact that without their support, we will not enjoy the success that we have today. This is why our people work hard every day to succeed and give back in many ways to the community which has given us so much. This is why we continuously do our best to provide sustainable solutions for those we serve through our Cahaya Kasih (Light of Love) initiatives.”

This year, Maybank Global Corporate Responsibility Day celebration – which coincided with the Maybank Cambodia’s launch of the literacy campaign here, is themed “MaybankCares – Impact, Engage, Empower”.

Added Mr Hanif Suadi, “This theme reinforces our commitment to creating and empowering solutions to improve the lives of the communities that we serve.

“I’m proud to share that today’s Global CR Day is shared by over 20,000 Maybankers across 14 countries who have invested their time, energy and passion to volunteer in over 95 Cahaya Kasih initiatives for their adopted cause or community.

“For us at Maybank Cambodia, our initiative is Maybank Financial Literacy Day which focuses on education and community empowerment. We will be sharing with over 1,000 students the key financial lessons including smart buying habit via animated video, knowledge about Khmer riel and skills which will enable them to be financially savvy and understand the importance of good personal finance as they grow up in an increasingly complex financial world,” he said.

The CEO shared the story of a boy in Cambodia who is sponsored through the “Maybank Child Sponsorship” programme – one of the bank’s Cahaya Kasih initiatives.

“The bank sponsored 50 students here in PIO to pursue their education. This boy is now pursuing his final year of an IT degree at the Royal University of Phnom Penh.

“What’s even more impressive is while pursuing his degree, he’s also taking his time to teach here at PIO and continue in helping to advance this community through education. He’s none other than our today’s emcee, Chhun Prum.

“Prum’s story is just one of the many examples of how our Cahaya Kasih programme continues to create a highly meaningful and sustainable difference in the lives of the community where Maybank has a presence in,” said Mr Hanif Suadi.

Last Saturday, Maybank Cambodia rolled out its financial literacy campaign at five different locations in the country.

“On behalf of our team, I would like to express our deepest appreciation and a big ‘Orkun Chraen’ to Ms Phymean and the PIO for providing us the venue to host the event and of course to Dr Mok Sarom and Mr Kamnan for taking time off from your busy schedule and joining us,” said Mr Hanif Suadi.

Speaking to the students, Mr Hanif Suadi said the lessons will be beneficial for their future growth.

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