Peter Nares is the founding executive director of Social and Enterprise Development Innovations (SEDI), which has been working for 22 years to alleviate poverty by testing new ideas that would assist low-income people with overcoming their financial difficulties. The organization is not associated with a university or the government, giving it more flexibility and creativity to innovate new ideas.
SEDI has been working with the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada since 2003. Peter explains that “the bond was instant because we both understood as organizations that financial literacy is an absolutely crucial skill for Canadians, and also that there wasn't enough being done with respect to helping folks become more financially literate.” He foresees broadening the work of both organizations by forming partnerships with a wide range of community organizations to spread financial literacy. “We need to find a way to get folks the information that they need so that they can make responsible decisions, and we need a financial services environment that is accessible to them,” Peter says.
My passion has been all about making the country a better place for low-income folks. It is about justice and justice for all, to use the old movie title.
Our contribution to poverty alleviation is through the development and market-testing of new ideas, so that is, we think, our unique place in the market.
We look around for things that are really challenging for low-income people, and then we look to see how those are being addressed, and we look for the gaps between the issue and what is going on.
One of the things that breaks my heart is driving by a fringe financial service outlet and seeing a line-up of people and knowing that it is either payday or welfare cheque day, and they feel like they have no other choice but to get immediate cash for that cheque ― maybe for very good reasons in terms of buying food, but it is so clear in terms of what can happen as a result of making those kinds of decisions. I find that very sad.
We need to find a way to get folks the information that they need so that they can make responsible decisions, and we need a financial services environment that is accessible to them.
The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada: we have been working with them since 2003. We formed an instant bond for a couple of reasons. One was that we both understood as organizations that financial literacy is an absolutely crucial skill for Canadians, and also that there wasn’t enough being done with respect to helping folks become more financially literate.
One of the things that is going to have to happen for financial literacy to really land in Canada is that we are all going to have to work together on this. It is not going to be possible to reach all of the Canadians that we need to reach unless all the players work together, and that we work together for a common solution on this. So that means provincial governments, federal governments, municipal governments, the voluntary sector in all its forms. We can envision libraries being an important repositories of financial literacy information, YMCAs, it just goes on and on.