Annual celebrations help the World Savings Day to retain its relevance and global
By George Gichuki
The 2023 World Savings Day will be observed globally on 31st of October. The idea of celebrating this important day was conceived way back on October 31st, 1924 during the first International Savings Bank Congress in Milano, Italy. Professor Filippo Ravizza, an Italian, is fondly remembered for having declared October 31st, 1924 (the final day of that congress) as the International Savings Day. Its major objective was to educate people around the world about 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 as a means of attaining a higher standard of living and securing the economy. The theme of this year’s World Savings Day is : ‘Conquer your tomorrow through savings.’
During this day, various organizations (including banks and non-banking financial institutions) hold a series of activities that are geared towards promoting and creating awareness about the benefits of savings.
The importance of inculcating a savings culture ( at micro and macro levels) cannot be overemphasized. At the micro level, through savings , individuals and households are able to accumulate wealth, prepare for emergencies and finance their education , besides achieving other important financial goals. At the macro level, nations are able to invest in projects and programmes that contribute immensely to their socio-economic development. Nevertheless, mobilizing savings is not a walk in the park. This is mainly because once earned or generated, money has very many competing needs.
According to the Central Bank of Kenya ( CBK) 2022 report, deposits of customers among commercial banks increased by 12.3 % – from Kshs. 4.5 trillion in December 2021, to Kshs.5.0 trillion in December 2022. This was mainly attributed to the banks’ success in mobilizing deposits through the agency banking and mobile banking platforms. Additionally, microfinance banks’ deposits stood at Kshs. 46.49 billion. In the vein, the 2022 Sacco Societies Regulatory Authority ( SASRA) report indicates that the total savings of the regulated savings and credit co-operative societies ( Saccos) at the end of the said year were Kshs. 620.45 billion. Regulated Saccos include deposit taking Saccos ( DT Saccos) and non-withdrawable deposit taking Saccos ( NWDT Saccos). Both categories are regulated by SASRA. DT Saccos mobilized deposits amounting to Kshs. 522.59 billion, while NWDT Saccos’ deposits stood at Kshs. 97.86 billion.
For over ninety years, celebrations to mark the World Savings 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.
It is advisable for people to be financially disciplined and to live within their means in order to attain high levels of savings. In that regard, they should embrace savings as a lifestyle, while developing short, medium and long term financial goals and budgeting towards achieving them. The budget drawn should be adhered to.
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.