FeminEast: Making financial literacy resources accessible for Eastern European women
FeminEast aims to create a safe space for women and all minorities in Eastern Europe (regardless of race, gender, background, education, sexual orientation, religion) — by empowering and supporting each other in learning about handling their money: from saving to investing and everything in between.
Across the globe, women earn less, save less, hold less secure jobs and are more likely to be employed in the informal sector. Given that they have less access to social protection and are the majority of single-parent households, their capacity to absorb economic shocks is therefore less than that of men. - UN Policy Brief: The Impact of COVID-19 on Women
With more career breaks, higher healthcare costs and lower salaries, there is an urgent need for women to have more targeted financial education from an earlier age.
Further research suggests that ‘safe spaces’ are important for being able to share useful resources and have vulnerable conversations. Imagine a situation in which a small group of friends would gather and share knowledge on how they manage their finances, set goals and keep each other accountable in reaching those goals.
“Sudden drops in income and unexpected expenses have put extra strain on many, while others have been able to save, but do not know how to make the most out of their savings” - Financial Times
The Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine have left women and minorities even more financially vulnerable than before. Over the last few years, many have had to take on additional unpaid care work for children and other family members whilst others undertook work in the informal economy in order to cope.
Women and minorities need tools that can help develop financial resilience in these situations — the ability of individuals or households to resist, cope with and recover from negative shocks with financial consequences (G20/OECD-INFE Report).
Why Financial Education?
Women cannot level the playing field if they are not financially empowered. While there are many areas of potential improvement, FeminEast focuses on financial education since over 70% of women in Eastern Europe do not have any savings. Women and minorities are often reliant on their partners or family for important financial decisions and have a hard time accessing resources independently. Financial education does not solve all problems, but being able to make financial decisions independently is the start we wish to offer.
But what is Financial education?
According to the European Commission, it “is the process by which financial consumers/investors improve their understanding of financial products, concepts and risks and, through information, instruction and/or objective advice, develop the skills and confidence to become more aware of financial risks and opportunities, to make informed choices, to know where to go for help, and to take other effective actions to improve their financial well-being”.
Leaving aside buzzwords and ‘get rich quick’ schemes, FeminEast wants to start conversations about financial decisions among friends and encourage more women and young individuals to set goals and assess their progress in reaching them.
Why Eastern Europe?
According to Eurostat, Eastern European countries have the lowest level of financial education in the EU, some as high as 80% of adults being considered financially illiterate.
Moreover, the online resources available on the internet are not catered towards the countries and people that need the information the most. With a simple Google search you can find an abundance of information about Western solutions, tools and resources yet almost nothing applicable to Eastern countries.
We want to enable change by mapping resources and providing advice that is relevant to the reality women live in, be it in Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova, Ukraine or elsewhere. We will do this by learning from each other in our conversations network and with help from a team of on-the ground volunteers that will talk to banks, insurance companies, pension funds and others to understand what financial opportunities are available. The first unaffiliated, centralized place for resources.
We also need to consider other risks — the world has evolved to a place in which we can now access complex investments, cryptocurrencies and stocks from the screen of our phone. Without a financial education, Eastern Europeans are more susceptible to scams and schemes meant to trick them into risky financial decisions.
What could be the impact?
According to a recent study by McKinsey & Company, “by tapping into women’s potential, the region could add 146 billion Euros a year to GDP by 2030”. An influx of money means more women will have to learn how to manage their income effectively in order to secure their future.
FeminEast’s ambition is to grow into a movement of women and minorities taking charge of their finances, learning to navigate financial systems and being confident in managing their income.
How are we going to do this?
With your help, we want to pilot the first initiatives in 2023 in Romania before expanding to other Eastern countries. We will start by targeting young women and minorities aged 18–25 in urban areas of Romania and designing a set of online initiatives, with the ambition to expand to other demographics and to rural areas as the program grows:
- Conversations Network. Small-group, peer-led discussions on topics of interest such as budgeting, saving, lifestyle, taxes, debit & credit cards, loans, investing, managing financial risk, career (salary negotiations), retirement planning and pensions, finances as a parent (college fund, etc.). Peer-facilitators will receive training and materials that they can use to get the conversations and groups started.
- Advocacy Team. A diverse team of volunteers working on putting together resources, research and papers and meeting with local government officials to advocate for access to financial literacy courses and resources in schools. Financial education is the responsibility of our governments so we want to move the needle in the right direction and make it accessible to young people in all of Eastern Europe.
- (in the future) Blog and Content Library free for all and translated in all Eastern European Languages. In our language and in a way in which we can understand it. Independent and unbiased by external incentives to ‘sell’ anything.
- (in the future) Courses and Workshops going in depth on more specialized topics.
- (in the future) Opportunities portal. Matching companies with young women for internship, traineeship programs, showcasing conference and workshop opportunities related to financial education.Making opportunities more accessible to Eastern European women.
The need exists and the potential is endless. There are millions of women in Eastern Europe each with different needs and backgrounds. Whether they own small businesses, work in the informal economy or in multinational companies, whether they have received their first salary or are planning to study abroad, Eastern European women have something in common. They have few conversations about managing income and lack access to resources. As such, we want to share a set of learnings from each other and help embolden women to reach towards better jobs, better lifestyle and, most importantly, better financial independence.
How can you get involved?
- Join our team and help us make this pilot a reality! Some of the roles include:
- FeminEast Co-founder: running operations on the ground in Romania (priority), Moldova, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Belarus, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia (~6h / week)
- Social Media Manager: for Instagram and / or Facebook and / or LinkedIn (2–4h / week)
- Sponsorship Lead: focused on grant-writing, crowdfunding, sponsorships and partnerships in order to make the initiatives possible (2–4h / week)
- Initiative Lead: for the Conversations Network, Advocacy, Blog and Content Library or another initiative you are passionate about (4–6h / week)
- Initiative Volunteers: lower time commitment than the Lead, but crucial for making the initiatives happen; you could be a Financial Literacy Specialist working on the Content Library or an Advocacy specialist trying to convince policymakers about the importance of financial education (2–4h / week)
- Language Specialists: willing to put time into translating the content in their language in order to make it more accessible to local women; languages: Bulgarian, Ukrainian, Russian, Hungarian, Czech, Polish, Slovakian (1–2h / week)
- Advisor: with finance / non-profit background and experience, ideally in Eastern Europe, looking to strategically support FeminEast in growing and developing partnerships (1h / week)
- Propose your own role, based on your availability and location! All the timings listed are flexible and we understand that everyone’s situation is different, therefore we will try to accommodate for that!
- Form Link: https://forms.gle/KYP9VfN7VWDuSYiM7
2. Support us with a donation towards our website hosting, incorporation and marketing costs!
3. Follow us on social media and share our content with friends!
Thank you for taking the time to read through our mission. Have an idea or feedback for us? Leave us a comment below or a send us a message at email@example.com