Board games – by Vrinda, Delhi School of Economics, DelhiTeam Ace
Financial illiteracy is a burden on the nation in the form of higher cost of financial security and lesser prosperity. Research shows that women typically have lower numeracy levels and have more difficulty making finance-related decisions than men and hence bear a higher burden of financial illiteracy adding to their social exploitation. In this light, there is a need for women-oriented financial literacy programs. Since people are unwilling to spend time on tedious, expensive and untailored financial training, there is also a need to make financial literacy programs fun, innovative and inexpensive.
One such strategy is training through board games – people will be properly trained in financial concepts and at every stage of the training they will be required to apply it through a board game (such as cashflow 101). It is similar to monopoly but instead of buying properties you have to make financial decisions and deal with day to day situations/economic shocks etc.
Money fo Sho!, South Africa, 2014 program delivers face-to-face sessions using a board game, covering modules on managing money and credit as well as savings and insurance. The project is a huge success with 82% increase of knowledge about debt and use of budgets noted in beneficiaries.
Another gaming technique (aimed at school children), albeit a bit technical, is used by VISA- Financial Soccer. It tests players’ money management skills as they advance down the field and try to score.
In the Indian context, different board games can be developed for women belonging to different sections of the society. For example, for housewives belonging to lower income classes and/or living in villages, it can revolve around financial decisions they make such as how much ration has to be bought etc. In the game they will face various probable situations such as fall in the income of the income earner, emergency situations involving huge outflows such as marriage, illness, etc, and their reactions to the situations will determine their money holdings. This training methodology can also be used to spread awareness of the various government initiatives taken for financial empowerment of women. To make training lucrative enough for people to join, it must involve rewards. One way is to give the winners of the game cash equivalent of the virtual money they earn in the game. Training cycles need to be short and recurring (because of time constraints especially for working women). The board games should be allowed to be played both individually and in teams and in the end trainees can be encouraged to form cooperatives with their team members. Those who perform well during the training session can be recruited as trainers for the next session which has two benefits- creation of employment and also since people get influenced by their fellow locals more, it will attract more people.
The saying that an educated woman leads to an educated household extends to financial literacy as well. Women require financial literacy and skills to not only manage their personal and household finances and develop entrepreneurial activities but also to improve their social position. A fun and innovative training program is key to financial literacy.