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Partnering to Build Financially Confident and Entrepreneurial Youth

Dirk Ostijn, Head, Western & Central Europe Sub-Region, MetLife

In 2013, MetLife Foundation, the philanthropic arm of MetLife, launched financial inclusion as its global focus. Simply put, the Foundation is working with partners in both developing and developed economies to expand and improve financial services to help low- and moderate-income people build better, more secure lives.  

An important first step is ensuring that people are well-informed and confident in their financial decision-making. Our partnership with JA Europe is providing young people with the hands-on financial education they need to ensure that they are knowledgeable about key financial topics, such as budgeting, saving, investing and using credit.  JA programmes also foster entrepreneurial spirit and build employment skills, both of which increase young people’s ability to start an income-generating business or get a job.             

The partnership began in 2014 when MetLife’s Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region and MetLife Foundation joined forces with JA to launch the MetLife LifeChanger initiative.  MetLife LifeChanger connects MetLife offices with local schools to deliver JA programs to students who might otherwise lack access to financial literacy, work readiness and entrepreneurship programming.  Each office works with JA to select the JA programmes that best address local needs and leverage employees’ interests and skills.  Piloted in four European markets in spring 2014, the initiative has now expanded to 19 countries across EMEA, including 16 in Europe. Last year alone, 900 EMEA volunteers delivered JA programmes to 26,000 students from primary to upper secondary level.   

MetLife Foundation added an exciting new component to the MetLife LifeChanger initiative in 2015: sponsorship of a MetLife LifeChanger Award at the annual JA Europe Company of the Year Competition. The Award recognized the student company that best demonstrated social impact in addition to strong financial performance and innovation.  MetLife associates from Poland and Turkey and MetLife Foundation served on the award jury. They had a difficult task selecting just one award recipient from the many outstanding student companies represented, but ultimately presented the award to the student company from Ireland. One of the younger teams in the competition, the Ireland team demonstrated that it’s never too early to nurture entrepreneurial spirit.  The Foundation will sponsor a second MetLife LifeChanger Award at the 2016 competition, and I can’t wait to hear about the many innovative ideas developed by this year’s participants. 

Behind the various programmes and statistics are countless success stories.  Of volunteers who helped students learn difficult financial concepts. Of students who see themselves in the world of work following a Job Shadow Day at MetLife.  Of a JA Company Programme advisor whose student team worked through an obstacle or was recognized in the national competition. Of teachers who welcomed the engagement of business volunteers who brought classroom lessons to life.      

We are proud of what we have accomplished in partnership JA over the past two years.  The partnership has provided us with a proven way to engage large numbers of employees in diverse markets in the financial education of young people. More important, it has helped us establish a foundation for these young people to be financially confident and entrepreneurial, which will help not only their future, but also the future of our communities.

Category : Entrepreneurship, Business Volunteering, Entrepreneurship Education Posted : 6 June 2016 11:24 UTC
About the Author
Dirk Ostijn, Head, Western & Central Europe Sub-Region, MetLife

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