Kimberly Akimanzi, a pupil at Green Hill Academy Primary School, already boasts of a ‘fat’ account for a third grader. Unlike the majority of peers and even older people, Akimanzi is a regular saver having started as early as when she was four years old.
The young saver says the practice is sort of an empowerment as it enables her to cater for her own basic requirements without relying on her parents. “When I lost my baby teeth for the first, I realised that I was no longer a small child. So I requested my parents to buy for me a piggy bank where I would deposit coins or any money given to me by my relatives and my parents,” Akimanzi narrates.
She says that her parents reward her in monetary terms whenever she does chores at home. This is the main source of money that Akimanzi has used to accumulate savings over the past four years.
“Whenever I do house chores like washing utensils or mopping the house, my parents pay me Rwf1,000 which I deposit in the piggy bank. The more chores I do, the more I earn and save,” she explains.
She adds that sometimes visitors to her home give her money that she also deposits into the savings box. “I deposit each and every coin into the box bank because I believe that one-by-one makes a bundle,” she notes.
Presently, Akimanzi’s savings stand at Rwf430,000; Rwf392,000 is in her bank account, while the piggy bank has Rwf38,000. She always consults her parents on how she can use the money.
Akimanzi says that when she was about three, her parents opened a young saver’s account for her in Bank of Kigali where they could deposit Rwf6,000 per month. This was increased to Rwf8,000 per month when Akimanzi turned seven years.
The younger saver says her parents advise and encourage her to keep saving and also challenge her to save even more, especially when she is about to get derailed from her saving goal.
Her mother, Christine Gatsinzi, says Akimanzi uses her bank savings to cater for some of her school or basic needs, but only when she has made a budget. She adds that, through saving, Akimanzi has discovered the value of working hard “because she knows that if she doesn’t do housework she won’t get a coin from us.
We ‘pay’ her for the doing house chores to teach her the value of working and money discipline”.
The mum is the custodian of the piggy bank, which reduces the temptation of Akimanzi using the money. She only accesses it when she is going to make deposits.
She adds, “My daughter uses her savings responsibly and rarely asks for money to buy small things like pens or books.” Gatsinzi says Akimanzi will have full control of her account and the box when she is of age.
Reaching out to peers
Akimanzi usually shares with needy and orphaned children that she invites to her parents’ home for small parties where they eat and drink tea. She also gives them items like clothes and other gifts with the support of her parents “because I believe that everyone deserves the best”.
She also rewards herself with a toy or a bar of chocolate once in a while. During such events, she advises and encourages the children to embrace the savings culture despite their situation. Giving to the unprivileged kids is one of the factors that inspire her to keep focused on savings goal.
“This pushes me to sacrifice and work harder to earn more money and increase my savings. I know that at the end of the day the saving will make me financially independent and also support other kids.”
Akimanzi calls on fellow children, regardless of age, to embrace the savings culture saying the practice teaches them how to handle money making them financially literate and money suave.
“Besides, the savings will be useful in the future especially in supporting their education or business endeavours,” she says.
Akimanzi, who is the council and class representative, plans to encourage her class and schoolmates to start saving during class meetings and at school assemblies.
She says it is crucial that children and youth understand the importance of saving.
She urges parents to encourage their children to save, and also support them along the way, arguing that children can always be tempted to use the money. This, she adds, is a huge barrier to wealth accumulation and financial independence among young people.