YouthStart on the road

  • December 17, 2014

  • Dakar, Senegal

Sharing best practices and lessons learned from financial service providers developing financial services for youth is at the heart of YouthStart. To reach this goal, the YouthStart team reaches out to a wide range of stakeholders at events organized by industry associations and international organizations.

Below you can read about all these events and how YouthStart connects to the wide range of stakeholders that can play a role in improving financial inclusion and creating economic opportunities for youth.

Association of Microfinance Institutions of Uganda

Last November, UNCDF Financial Inclusion Specialist Amani Mbale was invited to present the YouthStart publication ‘Building the Business Case for Youth Services’ at the annual meeting of the Association of Microfinance Institutions of Uganda (AMFIU). Although this year’s theme focused on access to finance for the disabled, AMFIU representatives found it useful for their partners to learn about the models developed by YouthStart partners in providing financial products to a vulnerable group in a sustainable manner. The conference also provided a new opportunity to reach out to financial service providers that are not yet involved in youth finance in Uganda. The discussion planted the first seeds of thought and strategic thinking towards greater financial inclusion for youth in Uganda.

Association of Ethiopian Microfinance Institutions YouthStart

Technical Specialist Ata Cisse served on a panel at the 8th Biennial Microfinance Conference of the Association of Ethiopian Microfinance Institutions (AEMFI) in Hawassa, Ethiopia. This year’s conference focused on ‘Inclusive finance for expanding opportunities to the financially excluded population’ and involved over 100 participants. YouthStart presented its publication ‘Building the Business Case for Youth Services.’ Invitees were keen to learn about the business models utilized by YouthStart partners, which focused on optimizing costs, increasing savings volume of youth and identifying other potential revenue streams.

Making Cents International

YouthStart Programme Manager Maria Perdomo participated in a talk-show style debate at this year’s Global Youth Economic Opportunities Summit. This year, the summit focused on asking the hard questions about youth-inclusive financial services: what products and services have been successful and where challenges lie going forward. YouthStart’s session, entitled ‘We’ve opened a lot of youth savings accounts…now what?’, brought together practitioners and audience members to review what evaluations and experiences in the field are saying about the value of savings accounts for young people, to hear about the hard lessons practitioners have learned and to explore policy and programmatic implications for the future.

Microfinance Club of New York

Organized by the Microfinance Club of New York in partnership with Credit Suisse, YouthStart participated in a panel aimed at providing an overview of youth programmes, the business case for youth savings and the policy issues involved when serving youth. Discussions examined how institutions are beginning to segment youth vis-à-vis costs and revenues (i.e., the older the youth, the greater revenue for the financial service provider), and the related regulatory and policy restrictions and opportunities of increasing access to finance for youth. During the session, Aflatoun shared the results of a meta-research study which looked at critical aspects of financial education. The study confirmed that shorter financial education sessions are likely to have more impact on youth behaviours than longer sessions. They also found that Aflatoun’s education had greater effects on changes in knowledge and skills rather than on attitudes.

Organisation internationale de la Francophonie

UNCDF took part in the International Colloquium ‘Women and Young People, an Emerging Force: Francophone Issues, Challenges and Perspectives’ hosted by the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie in Dakar, Senegal 17−19 September. YouthStart presided over one of the key workshops, which focused on youth employment. YouthStart presented its results to date and urged heads of state to look at financial inclusion and education as a key necessity for improving economic opportunities for youth and women. This important colloquium was a preparatory meeting in view of the Sommet de la Francophonie, which took place in Dakar 29−30 November. One of the key results of the November summit was the Dakar Declaration, which highlighted financial education as one of the nine major recommendations from heads of state. For more details on the Dakar Declaration, please click here.

African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States

Last November, YouthStart briefly introduced its activities and the role of youth finance at the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States ‘High-Level Symposium on Private Sector Development,’ held in Brussels. The session focused on identifying synergies to be developed by UNCDF and other United Nations agencies with the ACP Secretariat for the implementation and financing of the ACP Private Sector Development Strategy. Youth and financial inclusion, as to be expected, were at the top of the agenda in most of the discussions.

European Microfinance Platform

Last but not least, YouthStart was invited to facilitate a session at European Microfinance Week in Luxembourg. During the event, YouthStart Programme Manager Maria Perdomo moderated a session with Ana Gicherman from Women’s World Banking and Jules Théoneste Ndahayo from Umutanguha Finance Ltd. in Rwanda. The session was entitled ‘Increasing youth economic opportunities through access to finance: How favourable regulatory environments and youth focused services can shape better markets.’ The session examined how regulatory frameworks can better shape the products and services that are offered to young people. In particular, the panellists discussed aspects of regulation and products that promote uptake and usage of savings accounts, development of products that better link youth to economic opportunities in their communities, and protection of youth clients.