Financial Services


Financial services programs work with regulators, financial institutions, and supporting NGOs and CBOs, to design and deliver financial services and education that respond to the savings, borrowing, and risk mitigation needs of young clients. Inclusive finance can play a critical role in enabling youth to invest in employment or educational opportunities, but is often limited by legal hurdles, lack of collateral, and lack of business experience and financial know-how.

Where are we now?

The youth-inclusive financial services (YFS) sector is working to engage policymakers, donors, financial service providers, NGOs, and youth at the macro and micro levels to experiment with new or adapted financial services that meet the needs of youth, while creating business opportunities for the private sector. At the macro level, efforts are focusing on regulators and policymakers to advocate for youth-friendly banking policies that would allow youth more independent access to a range of financial services, and to develop appropriate youth-inclusive client protection principles. At the micro level, financial institutions are researching the youth market to better understand their financial behaviors and needs; and to pilot financial products and services that promise to meet a young person’s specific financial goals as well as present a future business opportunity for financial service providers (FSPs).

Trends and Best Practices

  • Regulatory constraints to serving younger clients require an FSP to think creatively, i.e. finding alternatives to formal identification and minimum age requirements.
  • To appropriately serve young people, practitioners must first use youth-friendly market research techniques to better understand their financial habits and preferences.
  • Youth financial service needs grow and change as they do. Adolescents only need access to savings services, whereas young adults can use a full range of services. Their needs also differ based on geography, education, marital status and employment. FSPs should consider which market segment they can best serve given their experience and assessment of institutional partnerships.
  • Youth financial products may only differ slightly from those offered to adults, including low or no minimum balance savings accounts and alternative guarantees for credit.
  • The major product differences lie in marketing (i.e. attractive color schemes/special logos and tailored messages for young people) and delivery mechanisms (i.e. thinking outside the branch) and in the accompanying non-financial services (i.e. financial education and entrepreneurship) critical for building a young person’s capacity to save, manage their money, and generate income.
  • YFS are often best delivered in partnership, enabling the FSP to focus on the financial product while partner NGOs or government agencies address the financial education and entrepreneurship needs of young people.


Financial Services: Blogs

Mixed Livelihoods: A Reality for Youth in Africa

Originally published by The Young Africa Works Summit

Africa has 600 million young people under the age of 25. These youth have aspirations and dreams of who they want to be, how they will contribute to their communities and the work they would like to do.

Young People Can Save: The Emerging Youth Savings Group Model and Why We Need Your Support

I’m passionate about the power of financial inclusion – particularly the financial inclusion of young people.

Why? Globally young people are disproportionately financially excluded for a myriad of often complex reasons. One illustration of this exclusion was highlighted by the World Bank’s Findex data released earlier this year, showing that in Sub Saharan Africa just 20% of young people have a bank account compared to 33% of adults.

What Youths Could Teach World Leaders on Development Targets

Originally published by the Huffington Post on September 25, 2015. 

At the United Nations in New York today, world leaders are gathering to finalize the Global Goals -- the targets that will replace the Millennium Development Goals and shape trillions of dollars of spending over the next 15 years. There is much high-minded rhetoric here at the United Nations that development is all about people.

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.

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YouthSave 2010-2015: Findings from a Global Financial Inclusion Partnership

Young people everywhere need support to transition successfully to a financially secure adulthood. We believe that one key to that transition is to develop sound financial habits starting at a young age. When that happens, the effects go beyond young people themselves— entire societies benefit when more citizens possess healthy financial habits.

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