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Enactus holds financial literacy workshops for Syrian refugees

Syrian newcomers learn the basics of budgeting, banking
April 12, 2016
People sitting around tables in lecture hall

Photo: More than 70 Canadian newcomers attended the first workshop on April 11.

On Monday, external,Enactus Ryerson held its first financial literacy workshop for more than 70 Syrian Refugees at the Student Campus Centre. The workshops, offered in both Arabic and English, will help newcomers to Canada learn the basics of financial literacy that longtime residents take for granted.

“We didn’t know how important it was until they actually came here,” said Samad Nasim, a member of the Ted Rogers School of Management-based entrepreneurial group, and the event organizer. “When they came here and saw that kids now want hundred-dollar cell phone plans, they don’t know about the system.”

At Monday’s workshop, participants learned some of the facts, including how to understand Canadian currency, and the average cost of living in Toronto (including rent, utilities and transportation). Moving forward, the workshops will help newcomers with budgeting, credit, taxes, school fees, and banking (including information on newcomer banking packages).

“A lot of people are telling us they don’t know how to manage their finances, or they’re leaving their heaters on at home because they don’t know it’s costing them more,” said Nasim. “So they’re susceptible to fraud right now. Housing was an immediate concern, and there are some who may take advantage of that situation. If a basement apartment costs $400, they may be charged $1,000.”

Jahad Algazawy, one of the new Canadians present, found Monday’s event useful. “I’m still new in the country, so I don’t know what challenges to expect, but the financial aspect is going to be one of them. To get involved in the community, I’ll have to come to these modules.

“I needed to know how to get involved in the community the right way. I needed to know how to do up a budget. I was looking forward to it, and I’m impressed with the first module, and soon I’ll be here for the banking module.”

Enactus Ryerson’s next event is tentatively planned for May. Details will be available on their external,Facebook page.

Ryerson University Lifeline Syria Challenge was formed to raise funds, attract private sponsors and help resettle new Syrian Canadians. To date, Toronto’s network of universities (Ryerson, University of Toronto, OCAD University and York University) has raised more than $4 million ​and formed 90 teams to resettle more than 300 Syrian refugees. To learn more, go to external,www.ryerson.ca/lifelinesyria/index.html.