Today you may have tapped your debit card to purchase your morning coffee, checked your bank balance on your bank’s smartphone app, and done some online shopping with your credit card.

Banking is so ubiquitous that you can even pay for items with a smartwatch.

In Ethiopia, it’s an entirely different story. There is just one bank branch for every 100,000 people – compared to 24 in Canada and 34 in the U.S – and most are in cities. The result is that very few people in the rural communities we operate in have ever even considered opening a bank account.

Until now.

We’ve invited banks to visit our communities and guided 10,000 of our students to open their first bank account. For most, they were the first generation to ever do so.

And we educate them on the value of saving, with students putting away on average 150 birr – the equivalent of US$7 – a year. That’s an impressive sum in a country where the average adult income is $550 a year, and noticeably lower in rural communities.

Financial literacy is a key part of the life skills training offered in schools we support. Education empowers people, and together with financial planning, our students are setup to invest in a new future for themselves.

Our students learn how $7 a year over the course of primary and secondary school could turn into $115 with interest. Those savings demonstrate to banks that they are reliable, and will make them more likely to be approved for a microloan. And with an education, savings and a loan, they can set up a microenterprise.

Just like the piggy bank you may have had a child, every bit of education is empowering.

imagine1day is pleased to announce Nicola Wealth Management has, once again, partnered with us to sponsor our annual gala. Nicola Wealth Management embodies innovation, growth and an entrepreneurial spirit, and they were moved by our work to educate and empower Ethiopians.