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Why financial education is key to all our sustainable futures

May 2015

Nick Jones, head of digital comms & corporate responsibility, Visa Europe, explains why they're backing the launch of the Entrepreneurship Skills Pass 


Engaging with young people is always inspiring, especially as you get older. Enthusiasm and energy carry you along. I recently visited a trade fair organised by Junior Achievement – Young Enterprise for London student companies. The vitality was palpable and their desire to sell strong. I caught their buzz and left the fair, with a couple of purchases and confident in the future those students will build.

Engaging with young people is also always challenging. The students came to that fair from different backgrounds and with different levels of experience. Some were natural entrepreneurs. Others were clearly learning the ropes. Teachers, mentors and friends all helped them tackle the challenges. It was clear that the programme was a safe place to make mistakes. And, a great place to learn from them. That’s rare in today’s society.

Such entrepreneurship education is vital. It builds self-confidence today. It starts to build the businesses of tomorrow. It builds the future stars of Europe’s start-up scene. That’s why Visa Europe wants to enable young people to thrive in the digital economy. Social value and economic value go hand-in-hand. Such values underpin the business case.

You’ll know Visa the business from the plastic card in your wallet or purse. Increasingly you’ll know it from making payments using your mobile device. And there-in you have the key insight that is so fundamental to the business case. Our children will probably never touch coins and notes outside of playing with plastic coins in kindergarten.

The digitisation of currency, transactions, values and payments is accelerating. About one euro in five spent in Europe is spent on Visa’s payments ecosystem, a digital one. In some countries that’s closer to one in three. So that’s why we want to equip young people to thrive in the digital economy. They need financial skills to have any future in a future that is digital. It’s as simple as that. And, entrepreneurship education lets them learn by doing.

The launch of the Entrepreneurship Skills Pass (ESP) reminds me of how the Visa pioneers built-out a recognised brand across Europe. One that was trusted by consumers and retailers alike to be accepted where ever they were. And, one that was trusted to delivered on a promise to pay. Today, the many ways of gaining entrepreneurship experience need a mark that gives recognition across borders and beyond particular competitions and curricula.

Employers and investors also need to accept the Pass as a trusted indicator of experience and expertise gained. It should be welcomed widely. The education and experience behind the Pass are not just vital experiences for the participants but vital ingredients in any enterprise.

Our recent Everyone In Business quiz asked over 17,000 Europeans ‘what type of Entrepreneur are you?’ The choices were fun but we also asked, in accompanying market research, if they did have an idea for a business and what might stop them starting one.

The most hopeful age group were the 18-24 year olds, 56% of them had that great idea. Well above the average of 45%. However, when we asked the young people what was holding them back 20% said they did not understand the financial implications of running a business. They are dreaming but some are fearful. A good financial education delivered through an entrepreneurial experience is essential. That’s why we are backing ESP.


Visa Europe | UK & NI Ireland | Financial inclusion

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