THE savings culture among Ghanaians is low. A recent data from the Ministry of Finance showed that 48 per cent of adult population in Ghana are financially excluded.
This implies that these people do not have access to financial service, including savings.
It is worth mentioning that many who have access to financial services do not have plans to make regular savings for the future.
Some people who have the habit of making regular savings do not have a savings goal. It is common to see most civil servants withdrawing all their monthly salaries immediately it hit their accounts.
Some Ghanaians who lack savings culture attribute the problem to low income. Others also put the blame on high cost of living and other commitments.
However, with self discipline and concerted effort, a person who earns regular income can make savings and this can help to create wealth.
It is worth noting that a little savings every month can lead to capital accumulation.
For example, if a person saves GH₵50.00 every month for 10 years, the total savings will amount to GH₵6,000.00. When interest is added it will be over the GH₵6,000 quoted above.
Role of Co-operative credit unions
Co-operative credit unions in Ghana believe in the philosophy of catch them young. In view of this, the movement is inculcating a savings habit into the youth by preparing them to be self reliant financially and if possible financially independent in future. This article will therefore consider how co-operative credit unions are promoting savings culture among the youth.
Co-operative credit unions in Ghana have a savings product called youth savings account in which the youth are the main target market.
Some youths operate the account on their own. Some parents also operate the youth account for their children who are minors until they attain the major age where they can operate the account on their own. This is helping to promote a savings culture in children. This is in harmony with the biblical saying that “train a child the way he or she should walk and when he/she grows up will not depart from it.
In 2015/2016 financial year, the youth savings mobilished by St. Peters Co-operative Credit Union in Kumasi amounted to GH₵1.73 million.
The Chief Executive Officer, Mr Emmanuel Amofa, said his outfit attached much importance to the need to inculcate savings culture in the youth.
Therefore, the management of the union will do their utmost to attract the youth as well as parents to patronize the youth savings product. Another strategy that co-operative credit unions are using to promote savings culture among the youth is youth savings clubs.
Cooperative credit unions have formed youth savings clubs in various educational institutions such as junior high schools, senior high schools, tertiary institutions among others.
As at December 31, 2015, there 91 youth savings clubs with 26,078 members. They mobilished total of GH₵1.19 million in savings, according to the Ghana Credit Union Associations (CUA).
Through the youth savings clubs, some youth are able to accumulate enough funds to pay their school fees without relying on their parents. Others have been able to register their WASSCE examinations on their own while some have been able to start small scale businesses after school with savings accumulated in school.
The CUA believes that the youth should have access to financial service. In view of this, they have been promoting new youth savings clubs as well as youth financial literacy workshops sponsored by Rural and Agricultural Finance Programme (RAFIP).
The management of the CUA under the leadership of Nana Kwasi Agyepon who is the General Manager also appreciates the fact that financial inclusion involving the youth can serve as membership growth strategy.
As a result, credit unions have been encouraged to adopt the youth savings concept.
ARCCU Credit Union in the Western Region is also doing well when it comes to promoting a savings culture among the youth.
The union is currently operating youth savings clubs in various secondary schools within the Sekondi Takoradi Metropolis.
Some the schools are Bompeh, Adiembra and Takoradi Senior High School. According to the marketing Manager, Mr Nkrumah, the impact of the youth savings club has been tremendous. He said that some of the students continue to save with the union after completion of their education.
From the above, it is evident that co-operative credit unions are promoting savings culture among the youth through the youth savings account and youth savings clubs.
The government should, therefore, channel the youth enterprise fund and other funds meant for the youth through co-operative credit unions.
This will go a long way to eliminate political patronage of such funds.
Furthermore, it will ensure sustainability through effective repayment.