About SWTS

Meet the smart way to start Team

Learn why financial parenting and financial literacy for kids are so dear to our hearts!
About SWTS

Get to know us


Our offer

Meet our protagonist

Marty & Francis

Marty is the main character and money role model of the SMART WAY TO START book series, consisting of 5 paperback books and 1 eBook, available in 3 languages, English, German and French.

Francis, the bluebird, is her best friend and side-kick, who accompanies her on her learning journey.

Through her stories, Marty will introduce your child to money and explain to them how to earn (Book 1), how to save (Book 2), how to spend wisely (Book 3 and it’s secret chapter on digital money, which is an ebook: the same way you cannot touch digital money, you cannot touch this book), how money choices impact our world (Book 4), and what the world needs for us all to thrive (Book 5).

With Marty’s stories we put our 3 Financial Parenting Principles into practice:
1. Children have a positive money role model they can identify with.
2. Marty’s stories make money moments visible to your child, setting the scene for all your financial parenting discussions.
3. And Marty’s stories are all in rhymes, which make for enjoyable repetition: your child will want to read them over and over again!

who are we

Meet our team

Dr. Mara Harvey

Our founder & author


Mariajo Ilustrajo



TESSY Antony De Nassau

Audiobooks narrator


Thalia Malaïka Urbani

SDG Song


Tiffany Premand

French books


Sandra Frank

German books

What we care about

Our Mission

OUR MISSION is to empower parents to help children develop good money habits that will shape their financial future. We want both girls and boys to become financially confident and literate so the next generation can enter the workforce on equal terms, equipped with the money skills for life and empowered to create a sustainable future.

Our Story

How books came to life

Mara never planned to write children’s books. She was busy writing a book for adults on “WOMEN AND RISK: Rewriting the Rules” to raise awareness for how low female financial participation and biased money semantics are huge barriers to economic gender equality. While analysing pay gaps, wealth gaps and pension gaps, she realised that no one seemed to be tackling one of the root causes of economic gender inequality: the biased money messages girls grow up with.
It was a comment by Shelley Zalis, CEO of The Female Quotient, during a live stream from the Equality Lounge in Davos at the World Economic Forum 2018, that sparked the beginning of Mara’s writing for children. Shelley said “Oh the places you’ll go…with financial confidence!”, taking reference to the famous book by Dr. Seuss. Mara suddenly knew what she had to do: she needed fun rhymes for little girls to become financially confident.
So armed with passion, sudden inspiration and years of joyful experiences reading rhymed stories to her children (she thinks she enjoyed those books even more than they did!), Mara set out to put pen to paper – or rather thumbs to iPhone Notes. The stories came gushing out as if they were just waiting to be unleashed. All of the stories are in rhyme, brought to life with high-quality watercoulor illustrations by the wonderfully talented Mariajo Ilustrajo.
Mara’s daughter Tyler gave precious feedback along the way reminding her again and again that “she does not speak Bank”, and that any financial jargon had to be eliminated radically, so money messages would be understandable for children! Tyler was a constant reminder of how the financial industry has alienated so many women and girls with its jargon, and how important it is to change this – for everyone’s sake! Mara’s son Timothy reminded her constantly how important it is to create a learning journey that appeals to all the boys too, who play a key role in shaping a more equal future for all.
From the very early days of draft rhymes, notes and sketches, the SMART WAY TO START journey has taken Mara and Mariajo all the way to the United Nations! Indeed, in 2021 the United Nations have endorsed book 5 of the series, on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, explained to children in simple rhymes. It has been published under the title START DOING GOOD (in French: Offrons un devenir durable à tou.te.s) in the United Nations’ Library as part of the Perception Change Program, to raise awareness globally for the Agenda 2030.
We are both very proud of this achievement and we are committed more than ever to bring financial literacy, equality and sustainability to children worldwide!