A multinational group of partners gathered virtually in July to mark the launch of Financial Capability and Asset Building in Africa (FCAB Africa), a new collaboration aimed at enlisting financial-service providers and human-service professionals to improve the financial knowledge of disadvantaged populations, and access to quality financial service.
FCAB Africa has been directly informed by Washington University’s FCAB partnerships in Asia, especially with National University of Singapore and Peking University in Beijing. In effect, the Next Age Institute, which started as a WU-NUS partnership, has extended first into mainland China, and now to Africa.
“FCAB Africa is a major new initiative to build financial capability and assets among families and communities on the African continent,” said Michael Sherraden in opening remarks. Sherraden is the George Warren Brown Distinguished University Professor and Co-Director of the Next Age Institute (NAI) at Washington University.
An endeavor grounded in insights from teaching and research
The NAI’s research and teaching on financial capability and asset building informed FCAB Africa, Sherraden told the event participants. Asian nations have been particularly receptive to NAI’s work on financial capability. “Singapore has already adapted an FCAB curriculum for social workers,” Sherraden said, “and mainland China is planning a large investment in FCAB training for social workers.” All of this work,” he said, “provides experience and lessons.”
Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia of Ghana, in delivering the event’s keynote address, said, “Without doubt, evidence from research projects, such as those conducted under FCAB Africa, will be crucial in shaping future policy directions, making the establishment of the FCAB Africa both timely and necessary.”
“Countries in Africa can review and assess these experiences, and then chart their own FCAB Africa agenda,” Sherraden added. “Dr. Bawumia’s presence, along with other dignitaries and experts, underscores the importance and purpose of the FCAB Africa launch.”
FCAB Africa is led by Dr. David Ansong, who is the Wallace Kuralt Early Career Distinguished Scholar in the School of Social Work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is joined by Dr. Mosus Okumu on the faculty at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Ansong and Okumu also are both Washington University alumni.
A major anchor institution for FCAB Africa is University of Ghana. FCAB Africa also envisions initial projects in South Africa, Kenya, Liberia, Uganda, and Sierra Leone. FCAB Africa partners celebrated the launch event as part of the 22nd biennial conference of the International Consortium for Social Development, hosted by the University of Johannesburg’s Centre for Social Development in Africa.