Proud Sola is a 32-year-old accounting graduate with a post-graduate diploma in tax and currently in his second year working towards an LLB degree through Unisa. As the firstborn of a family of seven, his education has always been a necessity to secure the success of not only himself, but also that of his younger siblings. However, Sola was surprised that he achieved an accountancy degree, one of the premier business qualifications in higher education institutions, but was not exposed to trading and investment through a credible institution such as the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE).
Having operated as a marketplace for the trading of financial products for 130 years, today the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) is one of the top 20 exchanges in the world in terms of market capitalisation. More than 42 years ago, it introduced the Youth Investment Challenge, an initiative that opened the world of investment to the country’s youth in high schools and universities as a means to demystify investments as well as equip young people with tools that will help them become financially literate.
The challenge aims to teach South African learners and students about investing on the JSE and the larger role that such investment plays in the country’s economy and it helps those participating learn about the fundamentals of investment strategy while encouraging them to research and strategise issues surrounding the trading of JSE-listed shares. Participants get to test their share trading skills through an ongoing annual simulated “ghost trading” programme. Each team is given an imaginary sum of R1 000 000 to invest in JSE-listed shares. Their performance is tracked and measured in a competition against other teams taking part in the challenge and top performers stand a chance to win fantastic prizes.
Sola is one of the recipients of this challenge which he says has only now exposed him to new frontiers that he has hung-on to ever since he first overhead his friends talk about futures and warrants (derivative financial instruments whose value is derived from other underlying assets).
Sola says: “My friends are the ones who introduced me to the world of trading and the JSE’s programme. However, they went beyond explaining trading and opened my perspective to other financial investment vehicles. Thanks to this programme by the JSE, I look at money differently. As the firstborn in my family and unemployed parents, the expectation is for me to provide financial assistance to those who come after me. However, I am not in the least bit discouraged. I have the determination and the intellect to turn trading into a very fulfilling and exciting career,” says Sola.
Sola’s dreams go beyond the programme as he says, “I feel the knowledge I have gained about financial markets has also turned me into a kind of influencer in my social circles. Every day I find myself as the source of information to those around me about what is happening in the local financial and business world. As soon as I save enough money to start trading in my personal capacity and in the real-world markets, I intend to unleash myself into the world of financial markets and trading. It’s important that other youth like me find ways to make sure that the money they earn, works for them as well by becoming familiar with available legitimate investment options – a focus that goes beyond your career alone.”