Movie teaches teens how to budget

A pair of township youths have had a terrific time with money they borrowed from a local loan shark.  They have no way to pay it back, but they are not worried — until the loan shark sends his heavies, who kidnap them and tie them back to back to await their fate.

Their freedom is bought by an old man who puts them to work in his bookshop, where they find a book called Smartbucks: Mind Your Moolah.

And despite the tendency of one of the pair to backslide, they follow the advice in the book, from defining their dream (to own their own music studio) and drawing up a budget to foregoing luxuries and focusing on the long term. In the final scene, they are in their own studio, rapping about finance.

It is an interesting way to teach teenagers how to handle their money, and it helps that the actors are comedians Tall A$$ Mo and Mpho "Pops" Modikoane, who is also the film's producer. Their rescuer is a television star: Darlington Michaels, who plays Papa G in Isidingo.

The film is aimed at high school students and follows a curriculum set by the department of basic education.

The department selects the schools in the provinces where the movie is available — Gauteng, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Free State, Western Cape and Limpopo. Pupils are bused to Ster-Kinekor cinemas, given a soft drink and snacks and ushered into the cinema. When they leave, they get a booklet reiterating what they have learned in the film.

It has been seen so far by more than 15 000 pupils, mostly from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Financial education and empowerment
The film is an initiative by Stanlib, whose vision, according to chief executive Thabo Dloti, is "to be synonymous with financial ­education and empowerment".

"We have always invested in educating our youth about the importance of saving and spending money wisely. We believe that the more financially educated our youth, the better off we as a nation will be."

So, interspersed with the drama are chats between Mo and financial trainer Lindiwe Ndlela. She explains to a clueless Mo such concepts as interest and budgeting and shows him how to calculate the interest loan sharks ­charge compared with what the banks charge.

 "We wanted a humorous, touching and captivating means of sparking the interest of young people to deliver life-changing lessons to take into adulthood," said Dloti. After all, "we are in the business of changing lives through financial empowerment".

For more information, email ­[email protected]

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Barbara Ludman
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