Property Investor recently chatted with Zoe Lamont and Arienne Gorlach from 10thousandgirl.
PI: To start with, could you give us a basic overview of what 10thousandgirl is about, and what your main aims are?
10thousandgirl: The 10thousandgirl Campaign is a not for profit organisation that aims to make managing your personal finances practical for 10,000 young women around Australia whilst setting into motion a ripple effect to help women globally through the use of microfinance.
It is really about becoming more conscious about what we want to do with our lives – to create a life plan with action steps around our goals – and to understand how we can become more efficient with our finances in order to 1) set us up for the long term and 2) increase our capacity to help others. The campaign helps to provide the time, space and tools to create a plan for your future and assists in connecting and facilitating leading people in the financial sector to support women in their local community.
PI: Why did you start 10thousandgirl?
10thousandgirl: The 10thousandgirl campaign is started and run by a network of volunteers, initiated by two women (Anneli Knight and Zoe Lamont) who personally and professionally were seeing something needing to be done with regard to increasing women’s confidence and engagement when it comes to managing our personal finances.
There is lot of financial information out there, but often not presented in a fun or engaging way. 10thousandgirl aims to help demystify this and present the planning process in a positive light – after all, planning is a skill everyone needs to know!
Why women? Generally, 1) women earn less than men; 2) are more likely to have interrupted careers because of child raising and caring responsibilities; and 3) live longer so need to save more for retirement. Women in Australia can expect to earn $1m less than men in their working lives. Globally, 1% of the world’s women own land (Australian Financial Literacy Foundation, National Centre for Social and Economic Modeling (NATSEM), International Center for Research on Women (ICRW)).
PI: What sorts of things can people attending one of your workshops expect, and what are the main outcomes you strive for with these workshops?
10thousandgirl: The objective for each young woman (generally 18-40 years – though we say if you feel like a girl you’re welcome!) who goes through a Life Planning workshop or joins a GIG (Girl Investment Group) is that they:
• Review or create clear inspiring life goals (a plan for the future)
• Have a minimum 3-6 months wages saved up as an emergency fund (savings)
• Have sufficient and relevant insurance in place (insurance)
• Ensure you’re happily challenged in your career (personal growth)
• Be learning to plan, save and invest toward a self-funded future (financial security)
• Share with a like-minded peer group (inspiration)
• Meet local financial service professionals (professional support network)
• Be contributing to our broader economic prosperity and wellbeing (sense of community)
PI: Having completed a workshop, do your members generally have continued involvement with 10thousandgirl, and are there available resources for them to further expand their financial literacy within the organisation?
10thousandgirl: The aim of the program is to be a catalyst for activity so we are continually building and plan to build ongoing support structures and work more and more closely with aligned partnerships and networks to support the young women in the program along their journey. You can receive the campaign’s monthly newsletter ‘The Ripple’, join the banter on www.facebook.com/10thousandgirl and www.twitter.com/10thousandgirl and find links and helpful downloads on www.10thousandgirl.com/tools-tips/tool-tips.
The program we’re most excited about are the 10thousandgirl GIGs (Girl Investment Groups), a 12 month book-club like program where you learn the basics around how the economy works, explore compound interest, what to do at tax time and look at investing in shares, property and ethical funds. It’s a good way to understand and lay your financial foundations and by the end of it girls have set up their budget, reviewed their super and insurance and laid an investment plan for the future. It’s the most valuable, hands on (and fun!) personal finance program available.
PI: The topic of finance is such a broad area, and covers such a lot of terrain. On the one hand a holistic and basic understanding of many topics can be very useful, but on the other hand a less holistic and more concentrated and in-depth understanding of a more limited range of topics can be equally valuable. Towards which does 10thousandgirl lean in terms of its own objectives in educating its members on financial literacy, and why?
10thousandgirl: We believe that it is central to understand the big picture of personal finance, even to the extent of including microfinance and ethical investing and the impact our actions and investing can have on long term sustainability and the global economy. To have a basic grasp of the financial cornerstones and see the how the different components work together, we believe you are then in a much more educated position to choose and manage whatever personal investment options you decide on.
We believe having a foundational understanding of finance builds your confidence to then be able to head off and explore other options, resources and data in a more concentrated and in-depth capacity. We believe the most important thing is to be first clear on your personal goals and values and see time and time again that it is easy then for people to choose wealth management strategies that appeal and suit them.
PI: 10thousandgirl has seemingly grown very fast since it started in 2010. As with any successful organisation, this has to be the result of a combination of several factors: a demand in the community which was previously not being met, delivering something great that people really want and appreciate, and smart marketing. In terms of marketing, what sorts of things have you found have been most successful in getting your message out there and getting more people interested and coming onboard?
10thousandgirl: To be truthful, to date marketing is probably our poorest area. I think the 10thousandgirl campaign has emerged and grown because it’s timely and meeting a growing and unmet need in the market. We have grown organically through word of mouth growth from the beginning which has then attracted regular media attention, building our credibility to attract and work with established partners and networks.
By far the fastest way the 10thousandgirl messages are spread are through the national, regional and local women’s and community groups who send out newsletters and memos to their members. We are inundated with emails after a big network includes us in their e-news. It’s exciting to see and experience women helping women, of all ages and from all walks of life. Everyone seems to get this. We all need a plan, we all need to learn how to best navigate and simplify the often complex world of finance. From chatter among networks, we are often asked to speak at events which also assists us in spreading the word. I think people listen and share and join the campaign because everyone involved is full of passion. Basically, we just really really care.
PI: The vast majority of microfinance is aimed at women throughout the world. One of the reasons why microfinance has done so well and has been able to sustain itself and grow, is due to loan defaults being so low, with such institutions as Grameen Bank reporting default rates of less than 2%. Even in developed countries around the world, women are statistically a much better credit risk than men, having (as a group) a significantly lower rate of loan default. How would you account for this discrepancy?
10thousandgirl: In developing countries, more women are involved in the informal labour sector. Men are more likely to be employed in contract work as labourers or overseas workers. Women are often left to support their families or supplement their husband’s income by using any skills they possess. With limited resources to start or expand a small business, microfinance is attractive to women who are prepared to work hard to give their children a brighter future.
Microfinance generally targets poor women because they have proven to be reliable credit risks and when they have the financial means, they invest that money back into their families, resulting in better health and education and stronger local economies.
In over 40 years of operation, our microfinance partners Opportunity International have proven that the poor are credit-worthy. Our clients maintain an average repayment rate of 97%. Defaulting on a loan is an unusual occurrence, with every client part of a larger program which monitors and assists them in repaying the loan. Loan officers walk alongside clients throughout the loan term, helping them deal with problems they may be facing in their businesses and offering support in order to overcome it.
A major incentive for clients to repay loans is their ability to secure subsequent, larger loans once initial loans are repaid. This enables entrepreneurs to grow their businesses more and more with each subsequent loan – increasing their productivity, income and living standards of their family.
Opportunity’s high repayment rate means that 97% of money is returned (usually within six to 12 months) and loaned out to the next poor entrepreneur who, in turn, repays the loan, creating a system of truly sustainable development.
Thank you to our microfinance partners, Opportunity International www.opportunity.org.au
PI: Your website states “Women’s lower levels of financial literacy has been compounded because sections of print and broadcast media with a high female audience are less likely to contain financial or investment information than sections with a predominantly male audience”.
Would you consider this largely the result of certain sections of the media being out of touch with modern women’s interests, or do you think it genuinely reflects a lower level of interest in finance amongst women – not necessarily because women ‘would’ not be as interested, but rather that women have not had as many opportunities and have not been encouraged to delve into financial matters until very recently, and as a result ‘are’ on the whole somewhat less interested in financial matters?
10thousandgirl: Historically, it has not been the traditional role of women to manage the finances. We are excited to see this changing rapidly however and are often asked by publications like Cleo and Marie Claire to contribute financial commentary, tools and tips – yes, showing that women are now asking for this information.
PI: Any exciting new plans for 10thousandgirl in 2012?
10thousandgirl: The plans for 2012 are very exciting. We’re just in the final stages of setting dates for Life Planning Workshops in over 40 regional and metropolitan communities across Australia – it’s exciting to take these programs to communities often overlooked from Bendigo to Walgett to Wagga Wagga to Alice Springs to Katherine to Charleville to Perth… Regular events are also continuing to be held in Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Canberra.
We’ll also be scaling up the GIGs (Girl Investment Groups). With our focus groups on their final module of the 12 month program, we’re all very excited about this. What some girls have done over a year is truly inspirational.
We’re planning to work with a number of key partners to expand the reach and affordability of the programs. One of these partners is economicSecurity4Women, a group funded by the Australian Government Office for Women. They are providing bursaries supporting women in remote areas or recovering from domestic violence and financial hardship.
And of course internally, we’re building our team, structure and systems to build our capability to deliver efficiently and effectively whilst having a lot of fun!
Property Investor would like to extend a very big thank you to 10thousandgirl for chatting with us!