Amidst a staggering number of out-of-school children, Nigeria grapples with illiteracy at all levels. Ahead of the 2022 International Literacy Day celebration, the former Minister of State for Education confirmed that 31 percent of Nigerian adults were illiterate.
A pivotal, albeit overlooked, aspect of this problem is financial illiteracy. So crucial is knowledge about finances that experts reckon financial literacy is indispensable for economic growth in the nation.
Financial literacy encompasses the knowledge to make informed judgements and effective decisions regarding the utilisation and management of money.
A report on financial inclusion in Nigeria indicates that rates of financial illiteracy are higher in rural areas than in urban communities, at 68 percent and 31 percent, respectively.
The Money Mechanic
Christine Vihishima draws inspiration from the dour statistics to create The Money Mechanic, a subsidiary of her company, Inyaregh Brand Limited. Describing herself as a ‘‘multipotentialite’’, who doubles as a photographer and lawyer, Vihishima established the Money Mechanic as a personal finance brand amidst the pandemic in 2020.
“What I do is coach Gen Zs and millennials on their finances. I am deeply passionate about helping the younger African population get their finances right, focusing on making them financially literate. This empowers them to make sound money decisions and attain financial freedom,” Vihishima said.
Money Mechanic’s draws on the increasing number of poor people and the country’s checkered history of Ponzi schemes to help young people make more informed decisions about their finances
As of 2022, Nigerians had lost over N300 billion to Ponzi schemes in five years, according to a report by the Norrenberger Financial Investments Scheme.
Vihishima puts this surge in wasted money to an inadequate understanding of money among the populace. “I believe when people have the right knowledge, they will make the right decisions. Many Nigerians are victims of a lot of Ponzi schemes. And most times they fall victim to these schemes because they don’t have adequate knowledge. I teach them what they need to know about their finance starting from the basics. For instance, many people don’t understand they have a money personality and the way they deal with their money is related to their money personality. Their money beliefs, savings, expenses,” she said.
To combat this illiteracy, Vihishima engages in tours across religious homes in Jos, where she lectures teenagers on finance. Since starting out, Vihishima’s Money Mechanic has coached 5000 young people—both in groups and individually.
“I also have a monthly meeting that I call the Breakfast Club. It is basically about getting a few people together to discuss our finances,” she added.
Together with this, she has written a free book on financial literacy titled “How Not to Get Scammed: A Beginner’s Guide to Investing.”
Despite the significant reach, not many are open to the knowledge. “Most of the people I teach don’t believe that they should invest their money to learn about money,” Vihishima told Prime Progress.
Vihishima, who is an alumnus of American University of Nigeria, Yola, juggles this passion with four other businesses.
Explaining how she juggles all of her businesses, Vihishima explained, “I prioritize goal setting, which is a major part of my life. Without it, I might struggle to manage all my responsibilities. I identify my priorities and focus on them. Additionally, I’ve established systems, such as having a team in my photography work, allowing me to concentrate on other endeavours. This is why I can manage everything simultaneously.”
Vihishima aspires to be among the top 5 finance educators in Africa, reaching an impact on more than 20,000 people.