YouthStart to exceed outreach target of 200,000 young savers

UNCDF, The MasterCard Foundation

The mid-term evaluation findings of YouthStart a UNCDF programme funded by Master Card Foundation

The mid- term evaluation of YouthStart released on September 2013 reveals how the programme and its partners are on the right track of not only reaching the initial targets of 200,000 young savers by end 2014 but also of exceeding this figure. As the evaluators state in the executive summary “YouthStart should reach or exceed its end of project goal by June 2014, in fact there is ample momentum for the program to reach 400,000”.

As of June 2013 YouthStart reached 193,000 via 19 partners ready to explore new frontiers of financial inclusion. These results were made possible by an iterative approach that allowed to build technical knowledge and relationships among 10 Financial Service Providers (FSPs). With these foundations for knowledge sharing, YouthStart was also able to produce knowledge products of interest to policy makers, in spite the fact that the programme was not set up to do so. This represents a first step in making regulatory frameworks more youth friendly, a key component to increase financial inclusion of youth.

Since its inception in June 2010, YouthStart has built a case that carefully conceptualized and delivered financial education combined with accessible and appropriate financial products (mostly savings accounts) does improve financial capability and engenders economic and social positive outcome among youth. All the findings and lessons learnt have been documented and disseminated inside the international community of financial inclusion players (available at  

However as Rafiatu Lawal a young women and Youth Leader from Ghana says “For young people saving is a privilege, we face a lot of challenges with regard to financial access”. It is a fact that YouthStart partners still struggle to reach girls under 18. This situation is due to the greater variety and number of barriers girls under 18 face to access financial services. These issues are typically in more acute forms than their older female counter parts or boys and young men. Despite this, some FSPs have begun to show better understanding of the challenges young girls face and have begun to implement new approaches. YouthStart will continue to stimulate and monitor progress in the outreach of young girls and in particular girls under 18.

Another area of progress for YouthStart lies in the identification of the best models to use to integrate financial and non-financial services (i.e. financial literacy, enterprise and entrepreneurship training and life skills).  Among the YouthStart partners, a hybrid form of the unified model, using ‘ambassadors’ and existing clients or community networks to reach out to youth and to provide or facilitate some of the non-financial services, seems to deliver better results than pure linked or unified models.  Early signs show the hybrid experiments yielding not only better take up and absorption of financial and non-financial services and lessons among the youth, but also greater chances for longer term institutional and financial sustainability for the FSPs.

As YouthStart is growing, one of the challenges to look ahead is to give more precision, depth, and meaning to program reporting, including definition of “low income”; adoption of performance related intermediate indicators; and incorporation of impact assessment.

For Maria Perdomo, YouthStart Programme Manager: “ We are extremely proud of our partner’s achievements. Being close to reach and exceed our initial target of 200,000 youth is a big milestone for all of us.  Our partner’s commitment to financial inclusion of youth has and will make the difference.  However we know that the challenge is big as there are more than 95 million youth who live with less than US$1 a day. We need to keep up the hard work, to continue replicating what has worked so far, and learned from this evaluation to improve the programme and bring more quality financial and non-financial services to young people, in particular the most vulnerable”

The mid-term review can be downloaded here.

UNCDF is the UN’s capital investment agency for the world’s 49 least developed countries. It creates new opportunities for poor people and their communities by increasing access to microfinance and investment capital. UNCDF focuses on Africa and the poorest countries of Asia, with a special commitment to countries emerging from conflict or crisis. It provides seed capital – grants and loans – and technical support to help microfinance institutions reach more poor households and small businesses, and local governments finance the capital investments – water systems, feeder roads, schools, irrigation schemes – that will improve poor peoples’ lives. UNCDF programmes help to empower women, and are designed to catalyse larger capital flows from the private sector, national governments and development partners, for maximum impact toward the Millennium Development Goals. For more information, visit

YouthStart, a UNCDF programme funded by The MasterCard Foundation, has provided access to financial services to over 192,000 youth in sub-Saharan Africa and financial literacy training to close to  200,000. For more information, visit

The MasterCard Foundation is an independent, global organization based in Toronto, Canada, with more than $6 billion in assets. Through collaboration with partner organizations in 49 countries, mostly in Africa, it is creating opportunities for all people to learn and prosper. The Foundation's programs promote financial inclusion and advance youth learning. Established in 2006 through the generosity of MasterCard Worldwide when it became a public company, the Foundation is separate and independent from the company. Its policies, operations, and funding decisions are determined by its own Foundation Board of Directors and President and CEO. For more information on the Foundation, please visit

For more information, please contact:

Maria Perdomo

YouthStart Programme Manager

[email protected]