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An A-Z Guide for Implementing Savings Programs for Low-Income Youth

Originally posted on youthsave.org.

Recently, Women’s World Banking (WWB) released an e-publication designed to guide banks, MFIs and other financial institutions through the process of researching, testing, piloting and implementing savings products for youth. Not only does the report provide a wealth of very practical knowledge on the topic, but it also has an interactive format that allows the user to access video interviews with key bank staff working on youth savings products, templates for budgets, action lists, and compilations of resources throughout.

The report, titled “Banking on Youth: A Guide to Developing Innovative Youth Savings Programs” is divided into four chapters: Creating the Business Case for Youth Savings, Program Design, Implementation—Pilot and Rollout, and Program Evaluation.

According to the report, there are two important questions that an institution must ask when understanding the business case for youth savings: “What can youth savings do for my business?” and “What can youth savings do for my customers?”

The report also highlights the importance of financial education in any youth savings program: “A youth strategy should not only increase access to financial services but also build financial capability and thus be savings-led, along with integrated, action-oriented financial education. Integrating financial education is critical to equip young people with the resources and knowledge to meet the challenges of adulthood.”

Much of the report’s lessons are drawn from WWB’s collaboration with XacBank in Mongolia, Banco ADOPEM in the Dominican Republic, and PEACE MFI S.CO in Ethiopia on savings products for low-income youth. Case studies from these three experiences, as well as from other banks and MFIs are woven throughout the publication.

Notably, Hatton National Bank (HNB), which is known for its innovation in youth-driven financial products, is given special attention in the report. At the most recent YouthSave Learning and Exchange Conference, many of us had an opportunity to hear from Chandula Abeywickrama, Deputy General Manager of HNB and member of the YouthSave Executive Advisory Board, about the evolution of youth savings in Sri Lanka and the success HNB has had in inculcating a savings habit among youth.

From identifying the questions institutions should ask in their evaluations to the types of incentives they can offer various client segments, and from building a comprehensive business case for youth savings to outlining a budget for executing product rollout, Women’s World Banking has compiled a very useful and straightforward how-to guide for institutions interested in or offering youth savings products. If you have not had a chance to read the report, I highly recommend that you take the time to do so; it is full of information and thanks to the interactive format, fun to read!