The Blackbullion South Africa journey started just over 2 years ago and what an amazing journey it has been.

We knew that young South Africans needed support in managing their personal finances. We knew this would be a key ingredient in helping our young people to thrive. We also knew that we needed the right product, something relatable and engaging without the usual confusing jargon and dry financial terminology. The Blackbullion product was everything we wanted and more: a globally award-winning digital platform with a gamified interface, detailed analytics, and a world of financial knowledge waiting to be explored. And so, over the past two years, we have worked tirelessly to localise the content, engage with our audience, run pilots, facilitate workshops, and always keep our focus on what matters most: impact.

The result is Blackbullion South Africa, the local iteration of this amazing product that was originally created in the UK and now supports over a million young people globally. We’re beaming with pride to announce that we recently reached a key milestone of 1000 South African users on the platform!

The journey to 1000 users

Finding the right platform was the crucial first step. How to take the product to market and build a client and user base was the next big challenge. ‘Product-market fit’ became our new mantra and we embarked on a rigorous phase of testing our MVP and running pilots with groups of bursary students and youth development beneficiaries. Our parent organisation, Feenix, as well as some other fantastic organisations including Standard Bank, the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation, and Deloitte were willing partners during the pilot phase and they helped us to validate our assumptions and get valuable feedback from our target audience.

Excited by what we found during the testing phase and armed with some solid feedback from our users, we went back into product development and worked hard to localise more content and build a robust product offering that was fit-for-purpose for South African users. Alongside product development, serious effort went into business development and networking, and our pipeline started to grow. Another important focal point has been impact, which is at the heart of everything we do. We prioritised gathering impact data from our users as much as possible in order to demonstrate how the Blackbullion platform is helping young people to shift their perceptions about money and change their financial behaviours.

In August 2021 we officially launched Blackbullion South Africa, a huge achievement for our small, passionate team and an important moment for youth financial literacy in South Africa. With Feenix as our first official client, we started onboarding users. Our second client, Excel@Uni, came on board and we saw a steady increase in active users and some encouraging analytics showing engagement and progression. We quickly found ourselves in 2022, a new year with new possibilities and a new client. The Standard Bank Education Sector purchased a number of licences and helped us to start piloting the product with various education institutions including public universities, private colleges, and high schools. Along the way we realised the importance of community building and engaging with our audience. With some fresh energy and new skills in our team, community building became a key focus.

Our priority is not only getting young people to engage with our content, we want them to engage with us and with their peers. Promoting open dialogue about money and finances has become a core part of what we offer and our first webinar showed just how important that is for our young people.

Before we knew it, with a new cohort of Feenix students being onboarded, we reached 1000 users. A thousand young people are learning to manage their finances, confronting their stress about money, and having healthy conversations about wealth and wellbeing. A thousand young people are investing in their future and changing the narrative about money and financial freedom.

The data and feedback gathered from the platform and via our user surveys is already validating the impact of this product. We are seeing increased confidence levels in young people reaching their savings goals, understanding credit scores, managing debt, and creating budgets. Our Feenix users have ranked Blackbullion as a key support feature. Time spent on the platform has helped them to develop grit, feel emotionally supported and, most importantly, feel more financially stable. Gathering impact data, engaging with our users, and demonstrating behaviour change when it comes to personal finance will always be a core part of how we operate and a unique aspect of the Blackbullion South Africa product offering.

What’s next?

As I write this, we have exactly 1340 users who have watched over 4000 lessons on the platform. Our plan for the rest of this year is to grow that number to 3000 users and to showcase the amazing impact this is having for our young people. We want to partner with more organisations that care about youth development and financial education, organisations that believe in the value of financial literacy and want to invest in helping more young South Africans to become #moneysmart.

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