In April and May YouthSave brought together over 150 key local stakeholders in Colombia, Ghana, Kenya, and Nepal to discuss how to advance the youth savings agenda now that the project is over. Attendees included government representatives, such as the Minister of Youth in Ghana and the Central Bank Governor in Nepal; financial institutions, including the CEOs of 10 local commercial banks in Nepal; key civil society/support organizations like FSD in Kenya; and donors including USAID, DFID, and of course representatives of The MasterCard Foundation. In Colombia, the event was co-sponsored by the financial inclusion unit of the Ministry of Finance and CYFI, which was invaluable in attracting a diverse audience of key local organizations.
A few key themes emerged from these discussions:
- Financial education was the subject of much interest; stakeholders were particularly supportive of sustaining the momentum behind pilots currently underway to integrate financial literacy into national school curricula in Kenya and Colombia. Banks in Colombia and Ghana also voiced interest in finding ways to help deliver financial education to young people, potentially in collaboration with each other, with schools and, particularly for out-of-school youth, with NGOs. Stakeholders in Nepal stressed that financial capability programming should also be complemented with livelihoods skill building.
- In Kenya, there was also significant interest in finding ways for youth under 18 to access mobile wallets or mobile money-linked accounts, which would alleviate some key constraints to access and usage while providing youth with much of what they need in a savings vehicle. A coalition of key stakeholders, spearheaded by KIPPRA, will be exploring how this could be achieved, at least on a pilot basis. Recent strides by Postbank in enhancing account attractiveness, by allowing trusted adults to grant permission to youth to operate accounts independently, could provide a boost to these efforts.
- Several ideas surfaced around linking savings to pre-existing financial flows. For example, two attendees in Ghana and Nepal independently floated the possibility of adding a small savings deposit to school fee payments. In Nepal, there was considerable interest in leveraging the country’s substantial remittance flows to build savings for young people.
A final theme uniting all four events was the importance of cross-sectoral collaboration to move youth savings forward. Helping young people build assets will take the combined capabilities and talents of the financial sector, policy makers, donors, educators, civil society, parents, communities, and youth themselves. The challenges of coordinating such disparate players are not insignificant, but these events were another step in building the relationships and momentum needed to foster such critical collaboration.
(Left: A TV reporter interviews Dr. David Ansong after his presentation at the second of two dissemination events in Ghana.)