Youth face unique challenges as they navigate their school-to-work transitions. In many Least Developed Countries (LDCs), high youth unemployment, working in vulnerable employment, and economic disengagement run the risk of creating disaffection, increased migration, inciting social unrest, and slowing progress toward development goals.
As youth transition from childhood to adulthood, they are faced with several constraints that limit their potential for finding their own pathways to productive economic opportunities: gap in skill set, limited access to finance, and lack of youth-friendly policies and programmes, are just a few examples. This is particularly important for young women and girls, often subjected to violence and exploitation, with limited rights and opportunities to build personal assets that can help them improve their social and economic standing.
In order to overcome these challenges, governments are increasingly looking for practical solutions to help young people realize their full economic potential. In this context, access to financial assets and resources is gaining attention as a key contributing factor of youth’s economic empowerment. There is an urgent need for a sustainable model to build youth's resilience, in particular for young women, to successfully navigate school-to-work transitions, while adopting a capabilities approach to broaden youth employment opportunities. These pathways will enhance youth engagement with their local economies and support their access to opportunities within their immediate financial ecosystem. Key capacities and factors that support transitions include financial capability and other social services that support youth economic inclusion.
How are we helping?
YouthStart aims to increase access to financial services for low-income youth in Sub-Saharan Africa by developing solutions that offer youth-tailored financial and non-financial services. YouthStart has more than tripled its original target of providing access to finance to 200,000 youth. This innovative programme has now reached 822,000 youth (43% female) by providing support to ten financial service providers across eight countries in Sub-Saharan Africa to design and develop financial and non-financial services for youth. These young clients have accumulated over USD22 million in savings while the outstanding loan portfolio to young entrepreneurs has reached USD29 million.