Al Amal Rural Youth Case Study
With funding from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and in partnership with Silatech, Making Cents International is implementing the IFAD Rural Youth Economic Empowerment Program (RYEEP); a three-year grant 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 provides capacity building and technical assistance to local institutions to pilot youth-inclusive financial (YFS) and non-financial service (NFS) delivery models to rural youth and to the enterprises that employ them. By 2016, RYEEP pilot projects will reach more than 18,000 young people, facilitating formal sector or self-employment to over 3,750 youth and delivering financial services to over 15,000 youth.
As important as these quantitative outputs is the knowledge generated by these five pilots; and thus a major focus of the program is on capturing and disseminating this learning, with the goal of helping IFAD and youth-inclusive financial services practitioners develop more effective and scalable programs for rural youth. The program builds upon what we know works, to extend learning around five research topics:
- Adapting and Developing Effective Financial Products for Rural Youth
- Determining the Appropriate Level and Delivery System for Supportive Non-Financial Services
- Using Technology to Lower Costs and Provide Youth with Alternative Forms of Finance
- Linking Products or Institutions to Facilitate Movement from Informal to Formal Financial Services
- Designing Innovative Approaches for Scaling Products in Rural Environments
The pilot project in Yemen has begun to produce learning across these learning topics. The Al Amal Rural Expansion project aims to reach 6,000 rural youth with a mix of basic and adapted financial and non-financial services. After one and one half years of operations, the project has developed a rural expansion strategy and launched operations in 13 rural areas that are now serving 3,583 youth and counting rapidly. Experience to date indicates that high pent-up demand for financial services in general has not yet required Al Amal to tailor its products significantly for youth, but that as they expand further, additional refinements will be necessary to fuel growth and secure repayment. In addition, technology and local capacity building are coming to the fore as critical issues that will drive long-term success of the program.
This Learning Report is one of five learning products to be delivered by the RYEEP grant. It introduces the learning agenda of the overall program and focuses on what has been learned so far from the pilot project in Yemen. It will be updated at program end to capture lessons gained after publication.