This post is sponsored by Capital One. All views and opinions expressed represent my own.

One of the biggest perks about working for myself is I get to say “Yes!” to some very cool opportunities that I wouldn’t have been able to if I’d stayed at my 9 to 5. One opportunity I got to take advantage of recently was being a judge for the Capital One Financial Education Challenge, which takes place through a partnership between Capital One Canada and an organization called Enactus Canada. 

It was one of the coolest things I’ve done so far this year, and because it was also my first time being a judge for such a big competition like this, I took my job very seriously.

What Is Enactus & How Are They Helping Young Entrepreneurs?

To give you an idea of what this event was all about, Enactus Canada is an organization that fosters entrepreneurship among post-secondary students across the country. Enactus is present in 66 universities and colleges in Canada (even my alma mater Simon Fraser University), and each year they host a series of regional and national competitions.

And this competition is intense! Enactus students from coast to coast team up in their respective universities or colleges to present projects they created to a forum of judges. This year, the Enactus Regional competition in Central Canada showcased four different streams of competitions that students could compete in, including: environmental sustainability, youth empowerment, entrepreneurship, and of course my favourite — financial education.

Highlights from the Enactus Capital One Financial Education Challenge

Now, it wasn’t just a panel of judges who scored competitors, it was an entire conference room full of judges! Not only that, it was some serious business. We had a full training session, very strict grading criteria and some heavy hitters as judges.

I was probably one of the few influencers who served as a judge, but there were some very important people from a number of organizations and financial institutions, including Capital One that were with me in the judging room.

And some of the questions these judges asked the student teams during the Q&A period were tough. I know for a fact I wouldn’t have been able to stand up there at 19 or 20 and keep my composure like these students did. Talk about getting a front row seat to see who the next leaders of our country are going to be. Maybe I should have passed out my card to a few of them, just in case?

Since 2012, the Capital One Financial Education Challenge has engaged 6,316 students across the country, resulting in 620 financial education outreach projects, and directly impacting the financial futures of 69,826 people.

What Does the Future of Financial Literacy Look Like?

The biggest takeaway I got from this experience was seeing first-hand what young people think about personal finance and financial literacy. Although there were some teams who had a better grasp of the subject than others, what really stood out to me was the recurring idea of integrating financial education with lowering unemployment rates.

A number of teams presented projects that served to employ new immigrants, homeless youth or unemployed people while teaching them how to manage the money they make better. So instead of just teaching people about money and hoping it sticks, they found that empowering people by finding them work first, then showing them how to budget, save and invest was more effective.

It definitely gave me some ideas for some initiatives I’d like to launch in the future. I love teaching others about personal finance, because I truly believe it can change your life for the better. But even I know that as much as I spread the word myself, most of the people I’m helping are middle class or above and are somewhat privileged.

Not everyone in Canada has access to the internet, or even if they do, they might not think blogs or podcasts about personal finance apply to them. So how as a member of this personal finance community can I eventually reach those people? Definitely lots to think about, that’s for sure.

Although it was super inspiring to see all these young people share their ideas on how to improve financial literacy in Canada, it also showed that there’s still a long way to go. But with organizations and competitions like this, and such stellar students out there, I’m confident that the future of financial literacy is hopeful.

I would love to know your thoughts on this! If you had to come up with a project for the Capital One Financial Education Challenge with the main focus of to promoting financial literacy, what would it look like?

Learn how young Canadian entrepreneurs plan to improve financial literacy in the country thanks to Enactus Canada's Capital One Financial Literacy Challenge