First prize

The JSE’s financial literacy programmes are building on another eventful year

First prize

The JSE Investment Challenge – the exchange’s flagship financial literacy initiative – signed off its 50th anniversary year with a celebration of its top-scoring participants. At the same time the JSE’s newest financial literacy project, the Virtual Trading Game (VTG), also announced its winners for the year.

The growing popularity of both initiatives is reflected in the fact that the Investment Challenge attracted close to 30 000 participants from high schools and universities, while the VTG, only in its third year, signed up more than 8 600 aspiring investors from across the country, up from 5 000 in 2022.

Fewer than half of adult South Africans are financially literate, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, and it is against this backdrop that both initiatives aim to educate South Africans about investing on the stock exchange, as well as the vital role that investing plays in the SA economy.

In both competitions, participants track, in real-time, the performance of virtual investments on the bourse. ‘One of the key hurdles in advancing financial literacy in South Africa is the lack of accessibility to financial education,’ says Idris Seedat, Head of Transformation and CSI at the JSE. ‘Recognising this challenge, the JSE Investment Challenge has remained committed to not only enhancing investment skills, but also bolstering financial literacy among the nation’s youth.’

Six teams – four from high schools and two from universities – were honoured on 6 October for the impressive performance of their portfolios in the Investment Challenge.

The level of commitment and growth shown by students and learners throughout the Investment Challenge was ‘genuinely impressive’, says Seedat, adding that the initiative offers an invaluable platform for youngsters to get a real-life experience of the financial world. ‘Their development and growth are what make this initiative so fulfilling and impactful.’

The overall winning schools teams were from Mpumelelo Secondary (income portfolio) and Clifton College (speculator portfolio), with two teams from ACUDEO College Crystal Park (equity and ETF/ETN portfolios). The University of KwaZulu-Natal (speculator portfolio) and Rhodes University (ETF/ETN portfolio) took top honours in the university section.

Meanwhile, the winners of the VTG were announced at the fourth ‘Ring the Bell for Financial Literacy’, a joint programme of the World Federation of Exchanges and the International Organisation of Securities Commissions to support World Investor Week (WIW), also in October. WIW is a global campaign aimed at raising awareness about the importance of financial literacy and to promote investor protection.

Through the VTG, ordinary South Africans are able to gain real-life investing and trading skills, and can learn about the fundamentals of trading as well as strategise around trading JSE-listed instruments.

The game, which is aimed at all South Africans who are not in school or tertiary education and are not professional investors, simulates a trading environment in which players can invest a ‘virtual’ R1 million in a risk-free environment. Taking top honours were Avuzwa Mphithi of the Western Cape for the speculator portfolio and Ivone Stanley from Gauteng in the ETF/ETN portfolio.

‘We’re seeing that South Africans have a keen interest in learning about financial markets, and the increased uptake is testament to this,’ says Seedat. ‘The VTG makes investing relatable and accessible to the general public.’

By Patrick Farrell
Images: Gallo/Getty Images