In Bundu, a community in rural Mpumalanga previously known as Kwa-Ndebele, economic opportunities are few and far between. As a result, the community is a breeding ground for Ponzi schemes because of the low levels of investment literacy.

It is for this reason that investment education platforms such as the JSE Investment Challenge are essential for the youth who stand to elevate their communities and improve their lives.

Sizwe Mtsweni, a teacher and JSE Investment Challenge programme mentor at Mpumelelop Secondary School says communities like Bundu need more programmes like the JSE Investment Challenge to increase financial literacy and awareness of legitimate investment options.

“Initially our former principal was doubtful about our school participating in the JSE Investment Challenge because he was concerned about the school’s academic performance. However, after a visit to the school by The Investment Challenge team which instilled confidence in him about the benefits of participating in the challenge and improved academic performance, the learners were given another opportunity to participate in the challenge,” says Mtsweni.

The timing was impeccable as the challenge became an integral part of the learners’ lives when the country went into lockdown in March. With fewer things to keep their minds occupied, the learners threw themselves into the challenge. In a sense, Mtsweni believes their success in the challenge was one of the good things to come out of the lockdown period.

“Winning the challenge is a very important achievement for the learners. We need the community to have a better appreciation of what their children are doing in the investment sphere and the knowledge they are acquiring through the JSE Investment Challenge,” says Mtsweni.

Upon recognising the need for the youth to receive continuous financial education, the JSE engaged with the school’s leadership to return the learners to the Investment Challenge. Mtsweni says it is as if the learners knew they were facing a ‘make or break’ situation because they gave it all they had.

“I am very pleased to see that the school won one of the monthly prizes (in the income portfolio) because this has sent a very strong message to the leadership of the school that they want this knowledge and they will not waste the opportunity they have been given,” says Ralph Speirs, CSI Officer at the JSE.

Formerly a senior secondary school catering for grade 10 to 12 learners only, the school’s learner population swelled to nearly 400 in early 2020 by adding grade 8 and 9 learners. Mtsweni says he expects to see the number of learners participating in the JSE Investment Challenge to increase as well.

Speirs says he hopes this latest accolade will motivate other learners to take the opportunity to be financially literate and take that knowledge to their community to curb the spread of fake investment schemes, whatever form they may take and also improve their lives as well as that of their families.

Other winners for July included team Ma’at-ACCP from Acudeo College Crystal Park who took top honours in the equity portfolio, the Prophets of Profit, a team from Reddam House Durbanville, was the top performer in the speculator portfolio and University of Stellenbosch’s Manan Investments team won the university level speculator portfolio.