Kenya Postbank Launches SMATA Youth Account

Originally posted on youthsave.org.

By Rani Deshpande and Zebedee Mkala, Save the Children

On July 12 YouthSave partner Kenya Postbank officially launched its new “SMATA” youth account with festivities at the Ofafa Jericho high school in Nairobi.  The event was presided over by Canada’s Deputy High Commissioner to Kenya, with close to 500 youth in attendance.  Participating youth were treated to a comedy show and dance competition where the winners were awarded with T-shirts and had a SMATA account opened for them.  In total, about 130 accounts were opened during the launch.    

“SMATA” means “the smart one” in Swahili, and the account was so named because it is designed to encourage young account holders inculcate a savings habit by saving small amounts in their accounts to help them achieve their short- and long-term savings goals.  Postbank’s strategy is also to offer low-touch financial education to stir the youths’ desire to open accounts during school marketing activations.  Targeted at youth aged 12-18, the product also offers young account holders considerably more ownership and control over their savings than other youth accounts in Kenya.  In addition, the low minimum opening balance of Ksh50 (approximately USD 0.60) has proven very popular with clients.

The launch event marked the culmination of over a year of work by Kenya YouthSave partners, including Postbank, Save the Children, and the Kenya Institute for Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA).  The team conducted market research with over 550 youth and 100 adults in 8 regions of the country, a 5-month product pilot, and intensive consultations at the expert and community levels.  With all Postbank staff trained on the new account, SMATA is now available throughout the bank’s network of 98 branches and 500 agents.

A number of child support organizationshave also expressed interest in the product as a way of preparing their beneficiaries for life as successful, independent adults.  As we continue to track the progress of Postbank’s SMATA we anticipate many more examples of the savings account being used to improve the lives of Kenyan youth and help them achieve their goals.