Geeta Uhl, KF14, Peru
At FINCA Peru, there is a lot more than just microfinance happening. In addition to women’s empowerment and business development workshops, FINCA Peru offers the children of borrowers financial and global education training with the goal to educate the next generation of entrepreneurs in Ayacucho, Peru.
FINCA Peru uses the Aflatoun Program, a 6-month course for children ages 6-12 to develop their awareness of savings and planning for the future, personal development, the environment, and the world. Aflatoun is actually a global network of social and financial education based in the Netherlands. According to their website, the program reaches 500,000 children in 31 countries. FINCA Peru is one of Aflatoun’s four partners in Peru.
Does Aflatoun stand for anything? At first I thought it was just another long acronym but apparently it was chosen by the children in the Indian program, and is a character in a Bollywood film. It has an Arabic origin and refers to “the explorer”
FINCA Peru first implemented the Aflatoun program in May 2009 in their Ayacucho office. The program targets the children of the women who are members of the village banks. The program is offered during the school year, and consists of 24 one-hour after school sessions from March until July, and is currently taught by two FINCA Peru volunteers.
The 6-month curriculum covers personal development, teaching the students about children’s rights, working in teams, and their roles in their family and community. The program also delves into environmental education- teaching about conservation, recycling, and keeping public areas free of litter.
Every student saves money each week and develops a micro-enterprise project. In the past, the children made Christmas cards to be sold in Canada. This year they are thinking about making piggy banks or another craft using recycled plastic bottles. The profit is all returned to the children. In the last class, 150 kids saved 3,000 PEN in total (~$1079) and earned profits of 264 PEN (~$95) for selling the Christmas cards.
The program does have some challenges. Sporadic attendance is common since it’s an optional after-school program held in a non-academic setting. The wide age range of 6-12 can also make it difficult to tailor the lesson plans.
For more information on the Aflatoun program visit their website here: http://www.aflatoun.org/
For more information on FINCA Peru visit their Kiva page here: http://www.kiva.org/partners/70
Geeta Uhl is a Kiva Fellow currently serving with FINCA Peru in Ayacucho, Peru