Washington, D.C. - One-third of the global population is under the age of 19, but less than ten percent have access to financial services. Recognizing the important social, economic and behavioral impacts that access to tailored savings and asset-building tools have on youth's opportunities to prosper, YouthSave - a consortium of youth and microfinance focused NGOs - today launched www.youthsave.org. YouthSave.org is an online resource dedicated to the experiences and research of the YouthSave Project, as well as broader information on youth savings accounts around the globe.
"Through www.youthsave.org, practitioners, researchers, policy makers and financial institutions will gain access to the lessons and insights needed to move forward in providing youth living in poverty with the opportunity to save and invest in their future and themselves," said Rani Deshpande, Director of the YouthSave Project. "Leveraging www.youthsave.org, the Consortium will share lessons and resources on delivering youth savings services that are both commercially sustainable and improve the lives of low-income youth in the developing world."
YouthSave and its local partners - financial institutions and researchers - are committed to developing, delivering, and testing savings products accessible to low-income youth in Colombia, Ghana, Kenya, and Nepal. Led by Save the Children in partnership with the Center for Social Development at Washington University in St. Louis (CSD), the New America Foundation (NAF), CGAP (Consultative Group to Assist the Poor), the YouthSave consortium is supported by a five year $12.5 million grant from The MasterCard Foundation.
"Financial institutions - as well as the governments, donors, and NGOs that can assist in serving low-income youth - need access to better information on the development and commercial impacts of youth savings accounts", says Jamie Zimmerman, Director of the Global Assets Project at the New America Foundation. "Through www.youthsave.org, our aim is to provide a central resource dedicated to filling that knowledge gap."
Savings products that allow disadvantaged youth in developing countries to accumulate savings and assets early in life may accelerate their access to better education, greater health services, new skills and economic opportunities. However, major barriers exist for financial institutions to provide youth with savings services, including costs of services and the lack of knowledge about effective products and delivery channels.
"Through its innovative programs and research, YouthSave is advancing knowledge about how and why youth in developing countries save, and how institutions can sustainably serve their needs," said Reeta Roy, President and CEO of The MasterCard Foundation. "The launch of www.youthsave.org will help practitioners around the globe to share learnings and insights into how, together, we can help to provide youth living in poverty with equal opportunities to earn, save and succeed."
About the Consortium
Save the Children
Save the Children is the leading independent organization creating lasting change for children in need in the United States and around the world. As the Prime Grantee and technical lead for YouthSave, Save the Children will bring its expertise in designing and implementing large programs for youth in developing countries, as well as over 15 years of experience providing financial services to the poor. Save the Children has identified savings as one of its main interventions to build and protect the assets of families-a critical tool in its efforts to strengthen the long-term economic security of children. Developing a strong evidence base is central to all of Save the Children's work, and the YouthSave program has been designed to generate rigorous evidence of the role of early savings on children's attitudes, health, education and protection. For more information visit: www.savethechildren.org.
Center for Social Development
The Center for Social Development (CSD) is a research and policy center housed at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis. CSD has a strong track record of respected applied research that informs policy and practice in the following countries: Australia, Canada, China, (including Mainland, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macau), Colombia, Ghana, Hungary, Indonesia, Israel, Kenya, Nepal, Peru, Singapore, Slovakia, South Korea, Uganda, and United Kingdom. In the US, CSD research has influenced the development of matched savings programs for children, youth, and families and informed state and federal policy. For the YouthSave Consortium, CSD is leading the design and implementation of the multi-method YouthSave learning agenda. For more information visit: csd.wustl.edu.
New America Foundation
NAF, one of the nation's premier think tanks, invests in new thinkers and big ideas to address major social and economic challenges. Through the work of its pioneering Asset Building Program and Global Assets Project (a joint project with CSD), NAF has built expertise in the design and advancement of policies, products and programs that build savings and assets, particularly on children and youth savings accounts, for poor and vulnerable populations around the world. More generally, the organization excels in disseminating its policy proposals and research findings to targeted audiences, including senior policy makers; key staff of policy makers; and opinion leaders. For the YouthSave Project, NAF will contribute its research and communications expertise to engage new and popular media on behalf of the Consortium, while increasing awareness and outreach for the Project. For more information visit: www.newamerica.net.
CGAP (Consultative Group to Assist the Poor)
CGAP is an independent policy and research center dedicated to advancing financial access for the world's poor. It is supported by over 30 development agencies and private foundations who share a common mission to reduce poverty. Housed at the World Bank, CGAP provides market intelligence, promotes standards, develops innovative solutions and offers advisory services to governments, microfinance providers, donors and investors. CGAP participates in the YouthSave Consortium by supporting research on the business case and the policy environment for youth financial products and services. CGAP has opened its communications platform to the Consortium to extend the reach of YouthSave research and publications to financial sector audiences, policy makers in developing countries and the donor community. For more information visit: www.cgap.org .
The MasterCard Foundation
The MasterCard Foundation believes that every person has the potential to transform their lives and to improve the lives of their families and their communities. By increasing access to microfinance and youth education to people in developing countries, the foundation is enabling them to realize their potential and lift themselves out of poverty. It is an independent, private foundation based in Toronto, Canada and was established through the generosity of MasterCard Worldwide at the time of the company's initial public offering in 2006. For more information, see http://www.mastercardfdn.org/.