YouthStart Participates into the United Nations High-Level Meeting on Youth

  • July 21, 2011

  • New York, USA


WHAT: As part of the United Nations High-Level Meeting on Youth, taking place in New York on 21-27 July 2011, the UNCDF-MasterCard Foundation initiative Y outhStart is hosting a side event on youth demand for financial services.

The panel will highlight key commonalities and differences in youth financial service focused market research findings across three initiatives, YouthStart, YouthSave and Women's World Banking -- that have helped financial institutions for youth across 11 countries mostly in Sub-Saharan Africa. In particular, YouthStart will release the paper 'Listening to Youth: Findings and Recommendations from Nine Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa on Market Research to Design Financial and Non-Financial Services for Youth .'

Listening to Youth provides:

  • Recommendations on data selection and collection methods for financial service providers seeking to develop youth financial and non-financial services
  • Key findings of market research conducted by 18 financial service providers
  • Summaries of the findings of four financial service providers that followed best practices in their research

During the side event, YouthStart will also be announcing the ten financial institutions that have been selected and awarded a total of $6.9 million to develop new products and delivery channels for youth. For this project, seventy financial service providers from 14 different countries in Sub-Saharan Africa were invited to submit applications to conduct market research related to youth focused financial services.


  • Ben Shell, Senior Technical Advisor, Women's World Banking
  • David Morrison, Executive Secretary, UNCDF
  • Maria Perdomo, YouthStart Programme Manager, UNCDF
  • Rani Deshpande, Director, YouthSave Consortium

WHEN: Tuesday, 26 July 2011; 1.15– 2.30pm

WHERE: Church Center, 44th St and 1st Avenue, Room 1041

WHY: Today, young people ages 12 to 24 make up about one-quarter of the population of Sub-Saharan Africa. Yet, it is estimated that less than five percent have access to financial services. Early findings suggest that financial services aimed at young people can best promote asset building and sustainable livelihoods when they are complemented by life skills, entrepreneurship, and financial literacytraining.

However, few financial institutions have experience serving young people or working with youth support organizations to design and deliver products for them. In 2010, the UNCapital Development Fund (UNCDF) and The MasterCard Foundation launched YouthStart- a partnership that will increase access to financial and non-financial services for 200,000 low-income youth in Sub-Saharan Africa. With a specific emphasis on savings, YouthStart is a performance-based program that will identify and build the capacity of up to 12 financial institutions to pilot and roll out sustainable financial and non-financial services tailored to young people. This project was catalyzed by a five year, $12 million contribution from The MasterCard Foundation. To learn more about the program, visit


The MasterCard Foundation advances microfinance and youth learning to promote financial inclusion and prosperity. Through collaboration with committed partners in 45 countries, The MasterCard Foundation is helping people living in poverty to access opportunities to learn and prosper. An independent, private foundation based in Toronto, Canada, The MasterCard Foundation was established through the generosity of MasterCard Worldwide at the time of the company's initial public offering in 2006. For more information, please visit

UNCDF is the UN's capital investment agency for the world's 48 least developed countries. It creates new opportunities for poor people and their communities by increasing access to microfinance and investment capital. UNCDF focuses on Africa and the poorest countries of Asia, with a special commitment to countries emerging from conflict or crisis. It provides seed capital – grants and loans – and technical support to help microfinance institutions reach more poor households and small businesses, and local governments finance the capital investments – water systems, feeder roads, schools, irrigation schemes – that will improve poor peoples' lives. UNCDF programmes help to empower women, and are designed to catalyze larger capital flows from the private sector, national governments and development partners, for maximum impact toward the Millennium Development Goals. For more information, see