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

Five Things Any Youth Savings Program Needs

A piggy bank can be a fun and effective way to teach kids about saving money, but those little containers only go so far. They eventually run out of space, and they’re too easy to access for impulse spending. Working with Women's World Banking, the Dominican Republic’s Banco ADOPEM introduced a more promising strategy in 2010 for teaching kids how to save money: opening a savings account in their name.

Less Politics, More Economics: Getting Real About Rural Youth in the Middle East and North Africa

In recent weeks, unprecedented acts of cruelty and violence have dominated world headlines in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) countries where we work, including Tunisia[i] and Yemen.[ii]  While politics and religion are dissected as drivers of terrorism, the underlying economic cause and effect seems to receive far less attention and debate.[iii] For MENA’s youth, the reality is that economics

Are We Offering Youth Bicycles or Unicycles?

A unicycle is a very simple machine that lack breaks, gears, or chains. It looks fun to ride, but it actually takes great skill to keep balanced because it does almost nothing on its own.

More Inclusive Finance for Youth: Scalable and Sustainable Delivery Models for Financial and Non-Financial Services

"More Inclusive Finance for Youth: Scalable and Sustainable Delivery Models for Financial and Non-Financial Services" has just been released by the e-MFP Youth Financial Inclusion Action Group.

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May E-Bulletin: From ‘Getting Real’ About Rural Youth in MENA to Formal Employment in Latin America

The May 2015 Youth Economic Opportunities E-Bulletin features news and publications from the World Bank, ILO, JA Worldwide, Spring Break Kenya and Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship. 
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Financial Services for Young People: Prospects and Challenges

In recent years, there has been a growing recognition of the economic and social obstacles low-income young people face in making successful transitions to adulthood. The ability to manage money, build assets safely and plan for the future is a core component of a larger set of economic and social assets required to achieve more sustainable livelihoods. One of The MasterCard Foundation’s earliest efforts explored how best to serve the financial needs of young people living in poverty, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa.

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