Girls and Their Money: Strategies for Promoting Savings, Financial Education and Social Support for Adolescent Girls in Low-Income Countries

Jennefer Sebstad
Microfinance Opportunities (MFO)
Resource Type: 
Publication Date: 
Nov, 2011

As part of the Nike Foundation’s global initiative to empower adolescent girls, Microfinance Opportunities and three grantee organizations together designed and tested an innovative programming model that combines financial education, savings, and social support. The underlying idea is that by combining financial education with savings mechanisms and social support, girls will develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to manage money well, and gain the ability and opportunity to apply this knowledge in the real world. They also will build social and economic assets that enable girls to reduce risks and take advantage of opportunities now and in the future.

The grantees—CARE Burundi, The Population Council/ MicroSave, and Women’s World Banking (WWB)—are testing this approach among low-income adolescent girls in five countries: Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Dominican Republic, and Mongolia. They are working with seven different financial service providers, including banks (XacBank and KREP Bank), microfinance deposit-taking institutions (ADOPEM and Finance Trust, FINCA, and Faulu) and community-based girls’ savings groups (CARE Burundi). This integrated model has not been implemented or collectively evaluated before.

Because financial education was new when the programs started, Nike Foundation brought in Microfinance Opportunities (MFO) to provide technical assistance across a span of activities, ranging variously within the five countries from market research, to the development and adaptation of MFO’s existing youth modules on financial education, the recasting of content for a number of alternative delivery channels, and training of trainers, to document the lessons learned about combining financial education with savings and social support. For the Mongolia project, MFO conducted the formal evaluation.

The programs target adolescent girls and young women, 10– 24 years old. Included are those who are in and out of school, working and not working, and married and unmarried. The programs reach out to girls in communities where they are especially vulnerable to risks associated with HIV/AIDS, early marriage, early pregnancy, gender violence, extreme poverty, and social isolation. The target groups include vulnerable girls in high-risk settings, who are outside traditional social support systems (e.g., in Kenya), as well as girls in more stable households just above and below the poverty line (e.g.,Mongolia).

Financial Inclusion
Asia, Southeast Asia, & the Pacific
Latin America & the Caribbean
Sub-Saharan Africa
Adolescent Girls
Financial Capability
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