In the common imaginary, finance is not usually the main dream of children, who we typically imagine want to be astronauts or superheroes. This is evidently a wrong idea, or at least there are significant exceptions.
Jose Adolfo Quisocala Condori opened a savings bank for children when he was only 7 years old. Today, at 13 years, the bank already serves over 2000 customers and offers various financial services.
Jose had the idea of a savings bank for children six years ago, after noting that many of his classmates were spending their money on sweets and toys, instead of saving them for more significant purchases. Despite his young age, he thought that saving money and using financial services were two ways in which his parents and adults in general solved many of their financial and social problems, so he decided to try to help children in this sense.
Jose then started thinking about how children could generate money without the help of their parents, and recycling seemed to be the obvious answer. Jose was sure he was on a good path, but when he told his teachers about a bank for children, he was told that a 7-year-old could not handle such a project. But he showed everyone that they were wrong.
“At first my teachers thought I was crazy and that a child could not undertake this kind of project,” remembers Jose. ” They did not understand that we children are not the future of the country, but its present. Fortunately, I had the support of the school principal and of an assistant in my class. I had to endure the bullying of my classmates for the work I was doing.”
The following video is not in English but you can clearly see the boy’s determination…
Jose Adolfo Quisocala Condori founded the “Banco Cooperativo del Estudiante Bartselana (Barterella Student Cooperative Bank) in his hometown of Arequipa, in 2012. The idea behind this ingenious financial institution was quite simple. The children could become bank customers by converting at least 5 kilograms of recyclable waste (paper or plastic) and had to deposit at least one kilogram of waste each month in order to maintain their status as members. Small customers therefore had to set a savings target and could withdraw money from their accounts only when they achieved their savings target.
The child reached an agreement with the local recycling companies, which offered the customers of the Cooperative Bank a higher price than the one normally paid for recyclable waste, with all proceeds deposited directly in their accounts. To make sure that the children were the only ones to benefit from their work, he made sure that no one except the clients themselves, not even their parents, could make withdrawals.
The Bartselana Student Bank has grown every year and today has over 2000 clients between 10 and 18 years old. The founder recently reported that he was contacted by the Banco de la Nacion Peruvian for another joint venture, and that the idea of negotiating with company executives does not frighten him at all, on the contrary.
“I am not intimidated by the meeting with bank managers to talk about business. The treatment is always friendly and, to be honest, I feel more comfortable with adults because they understand the projects I am proposing to them,” said the young entrepreneur.
The “Banco Cooperativo del Estudiante Bartselana” today offers children a variety of financial products, including loans, capital investments, micro-insurance, as well as access to financial education through a series of courses. Jose firmly believes that instilling a culture of saving from childhood is one of the formulas to promote real change in his country and in the world.
And indeed, it can not be denied that many economic problems, both on a personal and global scale, stem from the fact that many have a reduced understanding of even the simplest financial instruments and basic economic mechanisms.