Gamifying Financial Literacy with ‘Tokunboh Ishmael

August 22, 2022  • Aspen Global Leadership Network


At the 2022 Resnick Aspen Action Forum, ‘Tokunboh Ishmael pledged to empower more than 100,000 young people with financial literacy by 2024. ‘Tokunboh works as a fund manager financing inclusive growth strategies in Nigeria. Currently, 36% of Nigerian adults are financial excluded, with 50% without a formal financial service provider. The biggest barrier ‘Tokunboh sees to breaking the cycle of intergenerational proverty in the country is financial literacy. 

“The UN says that if every adult has a secondary education, we can half global poverty. We believe that If you layer that with financial literacy, the numbers could be even higher.”

– ‘Tokunboh Ishmael, Founder, Yellow Cowries, Finance Leaders Fellow

Inspired by watching her son play and learn community building through Minecraft, ‘Tokunboh created Yellow Coweries, a social enterprise that uses gamification to teach young people how to plan, save, and invest. With the help of Yellow Cowries’ tools, 600 senior school students are helping their families create budgets and will be opening their first ever bank accounts. This is just the beginning. 

What started with a traditional 52 card game deck, has now turned into a mobile app, and soon will be transformed into a multi-player online game that will allow this knowledge to break geographical boundaries. Through a gamified, peer-learning curriculum and a network of learning circles, as well as partnership with financial institutions and schools, Yellow Cowries aims to empower young people and entrepreneurs and ultimately help them build secure economic futures.

‘Tokunboh Ishmael is a Finance Leaders Fellow at the Aspen Institute and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network. She is a recipient of a 2021 Global Inclusive Growth Spark Grant – a collaboration between the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth and the Aspen Institute – for her leadership creating more secure economic futures for Nigerians through Yellow Coweries. She is is co-founder and Managing Director of Alitheia Capital, a female-led impact investing private equity firm and is an impact, gender-lens, and ESG investor and innovator.