Using Innovative Partnerships and Market Research to Link Financial Education and Savings Products for Girls
Microfinance Opportunities (MFO) is committed to effective market research to develop financial education curricula that are relevant to a variety of low-income target audiences. Through the Savings and Economic Empowerment grant, funded by the Nike Foundation, MFO formed innovative partnerships to support three grantees in five countries to develop financial education materials that will reinforce savings behaviors and savings products for adolescent girls. If adolescent girls and young women have access to high quality, low cost savings accounts, supported by financial education, not only will their propensity to save increase, but their attitudes towards and management and use of money will undergo a lifelong change. Market research is informing both the structure of the financial education component and the design of financial products for young women. For example, in Mongolia, MFO found that girls equate savings only with large amounts of money, which implies that saving a small amount of money has little perceived value. Given this information, it was deemed important with respect to product design to keep the minimum deposit small enough to encourage girls to open an account, while the learning session emphasized that savings can be a small or a large amount of money. Moving forward, a key lesson learned is that families do play an integral role in the financial education and the savings behavior of young people and must be involved in the process.