THE WORLD SAVINGS DAY

Ms. Anne Karanja, Managing Director, Postbank.
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Annual celebrations help historic day to retain its relevance and global appeal

By George Gichuki

The 2019 World Savings Day was observed globally on 31st of October.   The idea of celebrating this important day was conceived way back on October 31, 1924 during the first International Savings Bank Congress in Milano, Italy.  An Italian, Professor Filippo Ravizza is fondly remembered for having declared October 31, 1924 (the final day of that congress) as the International Savings Day.  Its major objective was to educate people around the world the importance of saving their money in banks, as opposed to keeping it in unsafe places like under their mattresses or burying it secretly in holes.  Over the   years, the themes of the World Savings Day have revolved around the importance of saving money in order to attain a higher standard of life and to secure the economy.

For over ninety years, celebrations to mark this day have been spearheaded by the World Savings and Retail Banking Institute (WSBI) and its global members.  In Kenya, Postbank, whose mandate is to mobilize savings for national development plays a pivotal role in these annual celebrations. A household brand, the bank was established 109 years ago.   According to its Managing Director, Ms. Anne Karanja, it is important for individuals to be financially disciplined and to live within their means in order to attain high levels of savings.  “ Individuals should embrace savings as a lifestyle,” she says adding that in order to accumulate a lot of  savings, one should develop short, medium and long term financial goals and budget towards achieving them.  The budget drawn should be adhered to.

Supporting   communities

By giving their customers exemplary experience, banks are able to attract their savings. Consequently,   WSBI (a voice of savings and retail banks in about eighty countries worldwide) together with its members dedicate the World Savings Day towards the promotion of the virtues of savings.  During this day,  banks demonstrate how they are supporting their local communities by offering them  products and services that  are  affordable  and accessible,  initiating corporate social responsibility ( CSR) programmes,  reaching out  to low income  households as well as the micro, small and medium enterprises.

Apt theme

where many people’s disposable incomes have   declined because of the high cost of living, it has not been easy for them to save.   Against that background, more than ever before, it is important for individuals to be thrifty and to avoid unnecessary expenditure (for instance impulse buying) in order to retain some savings.  Such savings will come in handy during a rainy day.   Of more importance, by saving, one is able to invest in a business, farming among other income generating activities, besides educating his or her family and putting up a decent shelter for them. As a matter of fact then, savings give life a lift.

POSTBANK CELEBRATES THE WORLD SAVINGS DAY

Postbank customers cutting a cake to commemorate the 2019 World Savings Day.

Bank’s role of mobilizing savings cut out as the appetite for credit among Kenyans grows

The World Savings Day is an annual event that was instituted to increase the public’s awareness on the importance of savings for both modern economies and individuals all around the world. It is a day observed on October 31 every year to promote the importance of savings and restore people’s confidence in banks.

Savings culture

It is important for Kenyans, from all walks of life to adopt a savings culture as it enhances financial independence. For the younger generation, it is part of Postbank’s contribution to safeguard their future.

In order to inculcate a savings culture among Kenyans, Postbank provides access to affordable and convenient financial products and services. This enhances financial inclusion in the country. In addition, the bank rewards on loyalty by giving attractive rates for its savings products. Moreover, it provides financial literacy which in turn increases the likelihood of planning for precautionary savings, future engagements and retirement.  Ordinarily, people who plan for future engagements have higher levels of wealth compared to the ones who do not do so.

Postbank has also entered into several strategic partnerships with  private and public enterprises to ensure outreach to all segments of its target market. For example, the bank has   long standing partnerships with local universities, technical and vocational education and training (TVET) institutes, discplined forces and other organizations to conduct savings education forums.

Mobilizing savings

Postbank is primarily engaged in the mobilization of savings for national development. As the cost of living in the country continues to rise, low income earners have been forced to largely depend on credit, since they have limited options of raising cash on their own.

Being the only savings bank in the country, Postbank has the responsibility of inculcating a savings culture amongst its customers. It has been observed that taking credit without a plan as opposed to relying on savings lands people in debt traps. Unfortunately in Kenya, improved access to credit (especially from the digital lenders) has adversely affected people’s ability to save. The interest earned from saving with Postbank is tax free and this is a major incentive to the customers.

Kenya saves less than many of her peers – around 13 to 14 percent of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) over the last five years – which is half of the average for all low-income countries (26 percent of GDP). By contrast, our neighbours, Uganda and Tanzania have already crossed the 20 percent mark even though their per capita income is significantly lower. In 2018, China accounted for about a quarter of the world’s gross national savings, with a personal savings rate of 25%. China has one of the world’s highest national savings rates amounting to 46% of the GDP.

In addition, the high cost of living experienced in Kenya in recent years has also resulted into little or no disposable income for savings among the citizens.  Low mobilization of deposits contributes to stunted economic growth.

Activities

The initial activities in commemoration of the World Savings Day/Week by Postbank commenced on 23rd October 2019 and ended on 31st October 2019. These activities mainly focused on increasing awareness about the benefits of savings. Their objective was to encourage more Kenyans to save.

Given its countrywide presence, all the bank’s 98 branches embarked on intense savings education and financial literacy campaigns.  The bank also had  focus group discussion targeted at gaining insights on personal and group feelings, perceptions and opinions on savings  in order to  enhance  its  outreach efforts better.

The   primary bonus offered by Postbank to its customers is tax free interest on their savings. In addition, since the bank is regulated, the customers have an assurance that their savings and investments are in safe hands.


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