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Why Financial Literacy is lacking in Caribbean culture and how to fix it

by Terrance Ramsey 28 May 2024 0 Comments

Financial literacy is a crucial skill that empowers individuals to make informed decisions about their money, yet it remains lacking in many parts of the world, including the Caribbean. Despite the region's vibrant cultures and strong sense of community, a lack of financial education persists. So, why is financial literacy lacking in Caribbean culture, and how can we address this issue?

Financial Literacy Issues due to Colonialism

One major factor contributing to the lack of financial literacy in the Caribbean is the historical legacy of colonialism. During colonial rule, financial education was often reserved for the elite, leaving the majority of the population without access to knowledge about managing money. Even after gaining independence, many Caribbean nations struggled to prioritize financial education in their school systems, perpetuating a cycle of limited knowledge and resources about personal finance.

Financial Literacy Issues due to Caribbean relaxed lifestyle 

Moreover, cultural attitudes towards money in the Caribbean can sometimes hinder financial literacy. There is often a stigma attached to discussing money openly, leading to a lack of conversations about financial planning, budgeting, and investing within families and communities. Instead, there can be a tendency to live for the moment, without considering long-term financial goals.

Financial Literacy Issues due to Informal Economies 

Additionally, the prevalence of informal economies in the Caribbean can make it challenging to track income and expenses, leading to a lack of financial awareness. Many people in the region rely on cash transactions and informal employment, which may not provide the same level of financial documentation as formal employment.


Financial Literacy Issues due to diverse Governmental Structures 

The diversity of political and economic structures across the Caribbean also complicates efforts to improve financial literacy. The region is home to a wide range of governance systems, including constitutional monarchies, republics, and territories with varying levels of independence.   For example, most of the Caribbean countries are a Constitutional Monarchy which is a type of government where there is a king or queen, but their powers are limited by a set of laws or a constitution. This means that while the king or queen is the official head of state and has some duties and ceremonial roles, the real power to make laws and run the government is held by elected officials, like a prime minister and a parliament. The constitution ensures that the monarch's powers are restricted and that the government operates according to the laws and rules agreed upon by the people.  This would include places like Jamaica, Bahamas, Grenada, Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Aruba, Curacao, etc.

Other Caribbean countries such as Barbados, Domenica, Dominican Republic, and Trinidad and Tobago, are all Republics and have completely broken away from their original colonial power whereas Territories have not broken away and don’t have full political independence.  They’re technically not even countries.  The most popular territory is Puerto Rico which is a US Territory.  Other territories include Turks and Caicos, and Bermuda to name a few.  Then there are islands like Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba which according to Wikipedia are considered a special municipality (officially, a "Caribbean public body") within the country of the Netherlands.  Are you confused yet?! LOL.

Each country has its own economic policies, legal frameworks, and financial systems, making it difficult to implement a one-size-fits-all approach to financial education. This patchwork of systems can create confusion and inconsistency in the financial information available to citizens, further hampering efforts to improve financial literacy.

How to Improve Financial Literacy in the Caribbean 

So, how can we begin to address these challenges and improve financial literacy in Caribbean culture?

Education Reform helps financial literacy 

One of the most effective ways to improve financial literacy is through education reform. Introducing financial literacy courses in schools from an early age can equip young people with the knowledge and skills they need to make sound financial decisions in the future. These courses should cover basic concepts such as budgeting, saving, investing, and understanding financial products.

Community Workshops and Seminars on Finances 

Organizing workshops and seminars in local communities can help raise awareness about financial literacy and provide practical tips for managing money. These events can be tailored to address specific financial challenges faced by Caribbean communities, such as saving for education or starting a small business.

Utilizing Technology to Track Finances 

With the increasing accessibility of smartphones and the internet, technology can play a crucial role in improving financial literacy. Mobile apps and online resources can provide interactive tools and educational content to help individuals better understand financial concepts and track their finances.

Promoting Open Discussions about Finance and Money 

Breaking the taboo around discussing money is essential for improving financial literacy in Caribbean culture. Encouraging open conversations about financial goals, challenges, and strategies within families and communities can help normalize the topic and empower individuals to seek help when needed.  When you have the right tools, resources, and support, having money talks becomes easier.

Access to Financial Services 

Improving access to formal financial services, such as banking and credit, can also contribute to greater financial literacy. By providing avenues for saving, borrowing, and investing, individuals can become more familiar with financial concepts and practices.

Financial Literacy Role Models and Mentorship 

Highlighting successful individuals within the Caribbean community who have achieved financial stability through sound money management can serve as inspiration for others. Mentorship programs can pair individuals with mentors who can provide guidance and support in their financial journey.  This is one of our goals and the entire mission of our brand is to Restore, Build, + Create.  To restore all the wealth and resources that have been lost back into these Caribbean communities, to build up the youth and children coming behind us, and to create a unique commonwealth of like-minded entrepreneurs to help them achieve financial freedom and live out the purpose that God has given to them.

Addressing the lack of financial literacy in Caribbean culture requires a multi-faceted approach that we are driven to achieve.   This topic is near and dear to me as when I was younger, I used to get picked on and teased about my choice of clothes because I didn't wear Jordans or all the major European Brands. I was from the Caribbean and I was poor. I felt these name brand clothes came with a certain kind of nasty elitist attitude which is not something I wanted to embody especially as a Christian.  So it lit a fire inside of me to create a brand of clothing that would bring people together rather than push them apart.  A brand that would make everyone feel inclusive rather than some better than others.  And that’s what I did when I created Royal Blossom Clothing.  RBC is a brand that represents the entire Caribbean and does not promote one island or culture as better than another.  We are all Caribbean and need to stick together and help each other to get ahead. By empowering individuals, especially children with the knowledge and skills to make informed financial decisions, we can build a more prosperous future for the Caribbean region.

So, now that you understand the issues with financial literacy, what are you going to do to do your part in fixing this for the next generation?  Comment below and share this blog so our community can start growing.




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