What started as an idea while sharing cooperation opportunities on financial education in a meeting with the former CEO of Albanian Securities Exchange (ALSE) Mr. Gjergji and the president of Albanian Brokers Association (ASTA), Mr.Cuci in June 2021, has snowballed into one of our most anticipated annual events. Immediately following the meeting, all parties found themselves fully involved in organizing the event and turning the idea a reality. The starting point was to connect with universities, as their students are the direct beneficiaries of the competition. The idea was greeted with a healthy dose of skepticism that quickly turned into excitement and optimism for the activity. We received confirmation from 13 universities, both public and non-public, keen to participate, and to our surprise multiple groups participated in the competition as teams.
Obstacles to Overcome
Organizing the competition was an exciting process, but there were many challenges as this was first event of its kind being undertaken by DSIK Albania. The primary challenge was switching from a desktop to mobile application, which caused some difficulties with team registration, but we successfully overcame this test. Introducing the competition mentors, teams, and university representatives to the SML “virtual” reality, meant explaining the competition rules and logistics, obligations, and evaluation. Considering the very short time left before summer holidays, DSIK, ALSE and ASTA jointly decided to deliver an online training for all participants. The silver lining of Covid-19 adaptations meant we were all familiar with online meetings and the three organizations worked well together and we feel we built a strong foundation for long-term, multidimensional cooperation.
Kicking off the SML Competition
On October 4. 2021 all participants met via an online ZOOM meeting, including professors, students and partner organizations, to kickoff of the competition. We were broadcasting on Facebook Live as well which enabled any interested people to attend and to have a look at what was going to happen for the next four months. We were happy to see and feel support from our DSIK head office in Bonn and appreciate the support for the team putting on the event and competition.
Concluding the Competition
The days, weeks and months passed, and the organizations monitored and engaged with the teams. DSIK reached out to the teams from time to time, as they dove deeper into their investments. Not everybody was performing well, however it was good to acknowledge that Albanian students were really enjoying the capital market, proving this hands-on simulation was a unique opportunity to implement what was being learned.
At the end of January 2021, the competition ended its journey. The teams were evaluated based on two eligibility criteria, portfolio performance (meaning how much it increased after investing in shares bonds and other instruments) and sustainability criteria (investments in stocks of the companies, particularly sustainability-oriented). There were three winning teams for each of eligibility criteria. Winners were announced during the online awarding ceremony organized by the DSIK office, and prizes were distributed during an in-person event organized by ASTA and AFSA.
It was a fulfilling journey and the DSIK team was delighted to see the proud faces of the students; we were very happy to be able to support their learning. The feedback we received from students, about the and competition led us to commit to making the SML competition an annual event. It was clear that this type of learning is well worth the efforts and resources instilled confident for other similar activities and events related to financial education.
Now, in September 2022, DSIK will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the SML competition. Here in Albania we will enter the competition with excitement, experience and willingness to improve in both the delivery of the events and the performance of the participants!