Blazing a Trail, Addressing Obstacles: Lessons from Save the Children and Fondation Zakoura's Youth Microfinance and Training Program
This case study examines the challenges that Save the Children and Fondation Zakoura Micro-Crédit (Zakoura) faced in implementing a USAID-funded financial services program for youth. It examines the institutional, local market, and programmatic difficulties encountered.
From 2006–2009, Save the Children and Zakoura partnered to implement a youth financial services and livelihoods promotion project called Linking Youth with Knowledge and Opportunities in Microfinance (LYKOM). The program included financial and business literacy training, savings promotion, and access to credit for youth businesses. LYKOM faced many program level challenges in areas such as human resources, institutional frustrations, partnership, communication, and the enabling environment. Lessons learned about youth financial services include:
- Entrepreneurship training is important for many, but not all youth;
- Young people need support in developing realistic goals and growth plans;
- Family engagement is critical;
- MFIs may need to adjust staffing structures to effectively provide youth services;
- Young people need more than an MFI can provide.