Replicating Youth Financial Services: Applying Lessons Learned and New Innovations

Womens World Banking

Blog #6 in a special series for the 2012 Youth Economic Opportunities Conference
September 11-13, 2012 | Washington, DC

Ryan Newton is the Senior Associate for Youth Savings at Women’s World Banking (WWB). In this role, Ryan is responsible for managing and growing the youth savings practice at WWB.

I have heard more and more about youth savings programs being piloted around the world with innovative product designs and financial education interventions. The increased attention to youth savings is commendable; however, how many of those pilots actually get off the ground?

In the last four years, Women’s World Banking (WWB) has been working on just that – developing a youth savings model that is replicable and sustainable. WWB, in partnership with its respective network member financial institutions, has incubated youth savings programs in Mongolia (XacBank), the Dominican Republic (Banco ADOPEM), and Kenya (KWFT), and has recently replicated these learnings to Ethiopia (PEACE MFI). Since the program launch in Mongolia and the Dominican Republic in 2009, youth savings is available at all of XacBank and Banco ADOPEM’s branches nationwide. Both of these institutions recognize that youth are a distinct segment and have made serving them part of their long-term strategy.

For my upcoming session at the Global Youth Economic Opportunities Conference this fall (September 12, 2012 11am, Track 2-Financial Services and Capabilities), I am excited to share our experiences developing youth savings programs in these four contexts, focusing on lessons learned and promising practices, such as:

  • Institutional buy-in is key;
  • Invest in initial primary and secondary research;
  • Develop a product that is youth-controlled, simple, and accessible, and test all prototypes before taking to market;
  • Incorporate sales tools for staff to provide ongoing financial education to youth and cross-sell to parents/guardians;
  • Engage partners, as needed, for financial education delivery, community support, advocacy, and outreach;
  • Integrate youth savings at all levels of operations and training;
  • Develop a youth-friendly marketing and outreach strategy that encourages take-up and ongoing account activity and considers alternative delivery channels; and
  • Integrate monitoring and evaluation tools along the way.

And you won’t leave empty-handed. I will be unveiling our new e-publication – Banking on Youth: A Guide to Developing Innovative Youth Savings Programs – which provides a detailed look at WWB’s approach to program development, case studies based on our experiences, and downloadable tools and resources. Be the first to see this exciting publication – see you at the session!