By Modupe Gbadeyanka A winner has emerged in the 2016 edition of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) Essay Competition for Senior Secondary Schools students in Nigeria. Miss Ifeoluwa Toluwanimi Abiodun, a 14 year old student of Babington Macauley Junior Seminary, Ikorodu, Lagos State, was announced winner of the competition. She clinched the first position at the award ceremony, held at the Civic Centre on Thursday, November 24, 2016, ahead of over 7,400 participants across the country, winning N500,000 in scholarship fund for university education, N250,000 worth of equity investment and a laptop. Her school was also rewarded with three desktop computers and a printer. Udeaja Nneoma of Sacred Hearts College, Apapa, Lagos and Gbenjo Olasubomi Victoria of Good Shepherd Schools, Meiran, Lagos emerged first and second runner-ups respectively. The three students were also honoured with a Closing Gong ceremony at the stock exchange. The NSE Essay Competition is one of NSE\u2019s financial literacy and inclusion initiatives aimed at bridging the gap between classroom learning and practical knowledge required for long-term personal financial planning. It serves as an essential platform to get the perspectives of our young ones on key challenges relating to financial literacy and inclusion in Nigeria. The competition\u2019s overall goal is to develop a culture of wealth creation amongst our youth towards \u201cBuilding a Financially Savvy Generation\u201d. Speaking at the event, Chief Executive Officer of NSE, Mr Oscar Onyema, noted that the exchange has implemented and supported a number of programmes in line with the National Financial Literacy Framework (NFLF), which contribute to raising the level of financial literacy in Nigeria. \u201cTo date, we have executed over 200 free capacity building workshops, aimed at enhancing investor understanding of the basics of investing. The multiplier effect of these workshops is phenomenal, as approximately 16,000 retail investors from the grassroots can now make better investment decisions,\u201d he said. \u201cImproving financial literacy is at the core of what we do at the NSE because we recognize that the ability to make well-informed financial decisions plays an important part in the capacity of individuals to manage financial matters well, a factor that can have either a negative or positive ripple effect on the economy. \u201cI am proud to say that with the NSE Essay Competition, we have established a strong foundation for improving the financial literacy and capability of Nigerians. \u201cThrough this competition, we have been able to promote financial literacy among young Nigerians, by encouraging them to learn how good financial decisions can better their lives now and in the future, and ultimately grow the economy,\u201d Mr Onyema added. According to him, the NSE, in the past 16 years, has through this laudable initiative impacted the lives of many Nigerian youths in various secondary schools positively. \u201cWe have been able to inspire over 37,000 young people in more than 7,000 schools across Nigeria to learn how good financial decisions can better their lives now and in the future, and ultimately grow the economy,\u201d he said. The keynote speaker, Mrs Modupe Mujota, who is the Lagos State Commissioner of Education, Science and Technology, noted in her speech that the youth are the trustees of prosperity and the greatest asset bequeathed to any nation. She advocated for a conscientious effort to ensure proper mentoring is done to achieve the requisite paradigm shifts per time. Mrs Mujota commended the Exchange for the essay competition initiative and call on other financial associations to emulate the Exchange by organising related programmes that could assist our youth to embrace sound financial practices. A life coach, Mr Lanre Olusola, advised the students to be focused and not be distracted from achieving their core goals in life. \u201cNo matter what your dream is without sight you will not reach the goal\u201d, he said. This year\u2019s competition was sponsored by Access Bank Plc, Presco Plc, Nigerian Breweries Plc, Rand Merchant Bank, FBN Holdings, UTC Nigeria, Mobil Oil and Ruff n Tumble.