Rural youth tend to be the least financially included: youth financial inexperience and limited assets exacerbate the basic rural finance challenges of low population density and poor infrastructure. Nonetheless, they demand financial services to manage their resources, build assets, and invest in livelihoods or education. How should the financial sector react to this situation – try to serve rural youth directly with new products and services, focus on the “near adults” in a rural finance strategy and deepen services over time, or ignore this population until the challenges of rural finance can be overcome? 136 financial inclusion practitioners came together on January 11th to discuss these issues and determine whether rural youth financial inclusion was possible, or simply a bridge too far.
Making Cents and RTI International are pleased to announce an in-person and webinar event on January 11, 2017 that will bring together financial inclusion and youth experts to discuss the key issues related to scaling rural and youth-inclusive financial services. The panel will highlight digital and practical innovations that have the potential to financially include rural populations and especially youth, but also the challenges of applying them to this hard-to-reach group. Panelists will draw from discussions at the recent USAID-sponsored Financial Inclusion Forum, results from a 6-part rural youth learning series developed by Making Cents and IFAD, promising practices from USAID’s K-YES project in Kenya, and other initiatives focusing on rural youth financial service provision.
The challenge of youth unemployment continues to garner headlines. Recently, the New York Times described the demographic challenge as, “The World Has a Problem: Too Many Young People.” These headlines have galvanized interest in youth and led governments and donors to re-focus their efforts on employing this growing population. Youth-inclusive financial efforts have expanded as well, aimed at providing youth with the credit and savings services necessary to facilitate their “earning and learning.”
The SDGs build on the success of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and aim to go further to end all forms of poverty. The new Goals are unique in that they call for action by all countries - regardless of income - to promote prosperity while protecting the planet. They recognize that ending poverty must go hand-in-hand with strategies that build economic growth and addresses a range of social needs including education, health, social protection, and job opportunities, while tackling climate change and environmental protection.
Financial inclusion seeks to increase the number of individuals who are able to access formal financial services, with a focus on providing access to marginalized populations such as youth or women. According to the World Bank, almost 40 percent of the adults in the world do not use formal financial services, such as licensed commercial and development banks, savings and loan companies, and deposit-taking entities. The majority of the individuals who do not access these services come from poor households.
The Annual Conference on Financial Education promotes the effective delivery of consumer financial products, services and education by hosting a national event for professionals providing these services. The Conference is a showcase for financial education success stories, offering attendees proven strategies, tips and techniques to achieve intended outcomes, funding goals and program sustainability. Each year the conference is attended by 200 professionals representing credit unions, banks, K-12 education, higher education, social services, debt management, government, military and other industries.
Join your peers in a race to develop a prototype for a new mobile application to advance financial capability in this practical, results-driven workshop. Using personas and user journeys created by and with youth, each group will be supplied with a toolkit and guided by a Human Centered Design expert to develop a mobile financial inclusion prototype during the session. Through this process, participants will be introduced to the tools they need to use rapid prototyping techniques in their own work and become familiar with some of the most promising approaches for financial inclusion.
In 2013, I interviewed a group of young people, staff and volunteers at a youth empowerment center in Kenya about their perceptions of agriculture as a livelihood. The interviews were part of a study driven by concerns about Kenya’s youth bulge, coupled with anecdotal evidence that the country’s youth had negative attitudes about working in the agricultural sector. The attitudes of the youth I interviewed were shaped primarily by the significant barriers they faced in accessing the capital needed to develop agriculture-based enterprises. Indeed, my findings pointed to the conclusion that the youth and agriculture problem runs deeper than the “youth are not interested” narrative.
The International Fund for Agricultural Development
Young women and men in rural areas of the Republic of Moldova are making good use of advantageous credit lines and other benefits offered by an IFADsupported project. Nineteen-year-old Anastasia Gilca is one of more than 700 women who have taken out a loan. She now runs her own profitable 3-hectare blackberry plantation. Following advice from her mother, Gilca started her business two years ago. When she heard about the youth entrepreneurship scheme run by the Rural Financial Services and Agribusiness Development Project, she signed up for training in business development, financial management and accounting.
With funding from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and in partnership with Silatech, Making Cents International implemented the IFAD Rural Youth Economic Empowerment Program (RYEEP), a three-year grant seeking to increase employment and self-employment of young people aged 15-35 in the Near East and North Africa (NENA) countries of Egypt, Yemen, Morocco and Tunisia. The program provided capacity-building and technical assistance to local institutions to pilot models delivering youth-inclusive financial service (YFS) and non-financial service to rural youth and to the enterprises that employ them. By the program's end, RYEEP pilot projects delivered savings or credit services to 20,543 rural youth and non-financial services to 14,252 rural youth.