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> Posted by Jeffrey Riecke, Communications Associate, CFI

Jeroo Billimoria of Global Money Week, a worldwide child and youth financial empowerment movement, recently said, “Want to ensure poor children mature into poor adults? Make sure they spend all their leftover cash.” To me, that simple statement captures the obvious case for advancing financial inclusion for children and youth. Youth save at dismal rates and lack adequate access to formal financial services. Global Money Week, expected to span 112 countries, 485 organizations, and 2 million children, aims to combat this reality.

The weeklong movement, now in its third year, is led by Child & Youth Finance International (CYFI), a global network working towards the financial inclusion and economic empowerment of children and youth. Global Money Week’s participants range from central banks, to government ministers, schools, NGOs, the media, and children. Its activities include bank visits, educational events, expert discussions, online engagements, and the launching of new research and initiatives.

One of the new reports launched in coincidence with Global Money Week is Banking a New Generation: Developing Responsible Retail Banking Products for Children and Youth, a joint-publication from MasterCard and Child & Youth Finance International. The publication is designed to support financial institutions, NGOs, and governments in collaboratively developing financial products and services appropriate for children and youth. Among the publication’s content are guiding principles for appropriate child and youth products, the case for financial institutions investing in this client segment, and considerations for the product development process.

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> Posted by Rani Deshpande, YouthSave Project Director, Save the Children

Two big financial inclusion gatherings in Europe a few weeks ago turned up the volume on bringing more people into the formal financial system — safely, meaningfully, and fast. With big trends poised to change the financial inclusion landscape, how can we harness them to expand savings opportunities for young people?

In London, the FI2020 convening brought together a who’s-who of leaders from the worlds of politics, banking, and microfinance as a culmination of the 18-month “roadmap to financial inclusion” process led by CFI. Discussions here centered largely on the biggest disruptive trends ensuring that, to paraphrase one speaker, financial inclusion will change more in the next 7 years than it has in the last 30. The comment reflects the general tone of the conversation, which was one of impatience or perhaps anticipation at this “inflection moment” created by the convergence of technological development and market dynamics.

According to CFI’s “Mapping the Invisible Market” study, the income of the bottom 40 percent of the world’s low- and middle-income economies will grow from $3 trillion to $5.8 trillion from 2010 to 2020. At the same time, other panelists pointed out that access to information (through mobile phones), the use of big data, and customer-centricity are creating game-changing new ways to reach and serve poor customers. In order to take advantage of this opportunity, one panelist urged the audience to “stop ‘innovating’ and start listening to clients” or to keep innovation “brain-dead” simple so that it can easily scale (critical given generally thin margins for BoP services). Usage, as opposed to access, was also highlighted as the new frontier of inclusion, with almost 50 percent of adults possessing accounts but only 7 percent in the developing world using them actively (> 2 transactions per month).

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> Posted by Center Staff

The FI2020 Global Forum in London gets underway this Sunday with a pre-Forum side meeting on financial inclusion for persons with disabilities (PWDs). This client-centric start feels like a fitting precursor for an event to expand financial inclusion.

Financial inclusion requires that financial services meet the unique needs of all clients, especially the needs of the most underserved and vulnerable client groups. Sessions throughout the Forum reflect this key tenet. In addition, there are side meetings on the Financial Capability Roadmap and the Consumer Protection Roadmap, focused on moving these roadmap principles and recommendations to action. These and the other three financial inclusion roadmaps were developed through a consultative process that collected and incorporated the perspectives of specific client groups.

Among Forum participants are representatives of various client segments – such as PWDs, women, the elderly, youth, rural populations, and migrants – to help raise awareness of their unique needs and assets. Here’s a collection of pertinent statistics for financial inclusion on these client segments:


  • 1.8 billion of the world’s population is between the ages of 10 and 24
  • 87 percent of youth are concentrated in the developing world
  • About half the world’s youth report being economically active
  • 38 percent of young adults have an account compared to over 54 percent of older adults

The Elderly:

  • In 1950, globally, 1 in 20 people were elderly. By 2050, it will be 1 in 5.
  • In 2000, only 6 percent of people in less developed countries were over 65 years old. By 2050, that number will grow to 20 percent.

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> Posted by Jeffrey Riecke, Communications Assistant, CFI

For many of us in the U.S., it’s largely happenstance that we cross paths with the topics of microfinance and financial inclusion in a meaningful way. Personally, I remember first hearing about microfinance from friends during college, but it was always in passing, never to the extent or specificity needed for it to make a lasting impression on me. I wish this wasn’t the case! I wish my college self, and all students for that matter, had more exposure to these areas.

To help students and the U.S. academic community engage with microfinance and financial inclusion, Citi Microfinance and Kiva have teamed up to launch Kiva U. The mission of Kiva U, built around three core initiatives, is to create a community for our future inclusion leaders and to support the expansion of full financial inclusion. There’s a big opportunity in the combination of modern communications technology and academia’s inherently social environment, though few interactive financial inclusion platforms for students and educators exist. Kiva U aims to gain popularity as such a platform.

The three core initiatives of Kiva U are expand campus-based microfinance clubs, develop classroom-based microfinance and financial inclusion curriculum for all learning levels, and foster leadership among students interested in social enterprise, international development, and financial inclusion.

There are currently Kiva clubs at 67 colleges and 60 high schools in the United States. Providing online and offline engagement tools, Kiva U plans to leverage this foundation and connect with additional students and educators throughout the country’s academic community.

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> Posted by Center Staff

Today marks 2013’s International Youth Day, a day set aside for governments and individuals around the world to bring attention to youth issues. First designated by the United Nations in 1999, this year’s day is themed “Youth Migration: Moving Development Forward,” and seeks to raise awareness of the opportunities and risks associated with youth migration, share knowledge coming out of recent research and analysis, and engage stakeholders, including youth migrants, in discussing their experiences and in taking action.

Globally, there are about 214 million migrants, with more than 10 percent of these being youth. Like all who migrate, youth face serious rewards in departing their native country, such as economic opportunities and escaping persecution, as well as serious risks, such as discrimination and inadequate living conditions. Youth migrants also face particular challenges, like a heightened vulnerability to sexual abuse and exploitation.

In UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s message for this year’s Youth Day, he indicated that too little is known about youth migrants’ struggles and experiences. For ways to get involved, including channels for sharing personal experiences, visit the UN website, here.

In the Roadmap to Financial Inclusion, the Financial Inclusion 2020 is creating an action agenda to advance financial inclusion for all client segments, including youth and migrants. To learn more about the Roadmap and to explore becoming a Roadmap reviewer, visit the FI2020 website, here. FI2020 also offers the opportunity to engage with financial inclusion among youth and migrant segments through the Mapping the Invisible Market initiative’s interactive data tools. With the Data Explorer, you can create visualizations illustrating how changing economics, technologies, demographics – including on youth and migration – and other variables are affecting financial inclusion. Check out the Data Explorer, here.

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> Posted by Jeffrey Riecke, Communications Assistant, CFI

Today, people around the world are celebrating World Population Day, a day that seeks to bring attention to the importance of population issues in the context of development. The focus of this year’s event is adolescent pregnancy, with the aim to catalyze progress in securing a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every childbirth is safe, and every young person’s potential is fulfilled.

There are currently roughly 600 million girls globally ages 10 to 19, 500 million of whom live in developing countries. Each year, 16 million teenage girls give birth, and an additional 3.2 million undergo unsafe abortions. Even though 90 percent of these teenagers giving birth are married, they still experience conditions contributing to challenging pregnancies: inadequate education, sexual coercion, violence, rights violations (including child- and forced-marriages), and gender inequality. In addition to lesser hardships that can come from unplanned or uninformed pregnancies, complications from pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death among girls ages 15 to 19 around the world.

The United Nations is calling for commitments from countries, communities, and individuals to support the provision of quality education for girls from primary school through adolescence, including age-appropriate, comprehensive education on sexuality and health. It’s been found that when a girl is educated, she is more likely to marry later, have children later, have healthier children, and earn a higher income. The UN also emphasizes the necessity for comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services. Other areas that demand examination are the legal systems surrounding marriage (including minimum marriage ages) and women’s rights.

As we have posted about previously (see here, here, and here), the low level of financial inclusion among youth is a missed opportunity to contribute to their well-being. Starting youth out with financial services can be a good investment. A New America Foundation study suggests that instilling a habit of saving among youth sets them on a course for a lifetime of financial capability. According to Youth Economic Opportunities, girls who are less financially dependent are at lower risk for negative effects of early pregnancy and child bearing. In a recent World Bank paper on gender equality and development, it was found that lack of agency (that is, a person’s capability to advance goals she values) is a key factor driving poor reproductive health outcomes among women generally. For example, women in Bangladesh who had more decision-making power were more likely to access prenatal services and skilled birthing accommodations.

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> Posted by Maria Perdomo, YouthStart Programme Manager, UN Capital Development Fund

Opening a bank account in Senegal gave me first-hand experience in how a bank can fail to apply the client protection principle on transparency. On my visit to open the account, I spent one hour waiting and another hour completing forms and asking the sales representative questions. When I decided that I had spent too much time trying to understand exactly what fees were associated with the account, I asked the representative for a brochure that explained it all. She looked at me as if I were speaking another language because, in fact, the bank did not have a single document disclosing all the fees associated with the account. So there I was, writing down all the fees the representative could remember. In the end—and after a lot of probing—together we estimated that I would have to spend about US$30 (CFAF 15,000) to open the account and then US$10 to US$15 on monthly fees! But, of course, I would not know exactly how much I was paying in fees before receiving my first statement.

A couple of months later, I went to visit a financial service provider in Uganda and interviewed the group of young women and girls that you can see in the photo. I was completely taken by how these empowered young women were saving in their individual accounts as little as 1,000 Uganda shillings (US$0.39) per week. For them, every penny counts, and they can only afford saving in an institution that is transparent about its fees and responsible about its pricing. Seeing this group of young women and girls, in contrast with my not-so-positive experience at the bank, reinforced my commitment to client protection for youth, who are among the most vulnerable clients.

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> Posted by Jeffrey Riecke, Communications Assistant, CFI

In school, my in-class instruction was mostly lectures from teachers and reading out of text books. In fact, before beginning other types of learning activities, such as games or role-plays, my teachers would often feel the need for a prefacing remark like everyone learns differently, so today we’ll be trying something new. My teachers were right. Everyone has their own learning style, and if we want everyone to learn, we need to adhere to this. Financial capability is no different. It isn’t enough to give someone a pamphlet or a fact sheet if we want them to be equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary for making sound financial decisions and for appropriately using financial services.

To this end, the Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI) is catalyzing advancements in financial capability through its Financial Capability Innovation Fund. The fund, now in its second iteration, selects non-profit led financial capability projects targeting low-income and underserved clients through a request for proposals process, and backs their development and testing through financial and non-financial support. Eight winning projects were selected in April for this round of the fund, receiving a total of $2.5 million in support. Paired with quality financial products and services, the selected projects leverage the power of new technologies and social networks to impart tailored, timely, and actionable guidance. A brief description of each project, in the words of CFSI, follows. Read the rest of this entry »

> Posted by Amanda Lotz, Financial Inclusion 2020 Project Coordinator, CFI

The following post was originally published on the Youth Economic Opportunities blog.

The Financial Inclusion 2020 campaign at the Center for Financial Inclusion at Accion is building a movement toward full financial inclusion by 2020. Accordingly, this blog series will spotlight financial inclusion efforts around the globe, share insights coming out of the creation of a roadmap to full financial inclusion, and highlight findings from research on the “invisible market.”

In 2011 only 17 percent of young adults (ages 15-24) saved in a formal institution in Nigeria, only 9 percent in Tanzania, and only 1 percent in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. These numbers remind us that youth financial inclusion is far from reality in many countries, especially low income countries with rapidly expanding youth populations (as indicated in CFI’s report Looking Through the Demographic Window: Implications for Financial Inclusion.)

Financial Inclusion 2020 (FI2020) at the CFI is building a movement that mobilizes stakeholders around the globe to achieve financial inclusion by the year 2020. As a part of this global campaign, we are focusing on client segments that have specific needs, including youth. FI2020’s working group on Financial Capability, one of five expert working groups creating a Roadmap to Financial Inclusion, shares insights into the group’s findings on youth and financial services:

1. Incorporate what we know about youth learning and behavior change into financial capability intervention design. Habit formation is important – for example, learning to look both ways before crossing a street. Establishing the savings habit early could set youth on a path to lifetime financial capability, according to a report from the New America Foundation. This report outlines the virtuous chain of connections from savings, to asset ownership, which leads to positive emotions and that promotes further sound financial behavior.

2. Providers are well-placed to contribute to youth financial capability building. Providers are uniquely positioned to help young clients develop financial capability. They have access to customers at the teachable moments when information matters most. They already invest in marketing, and a range of client interfaces can be adapted at low cost to provide financial capability messaging, potentially at significant scale. Further, they can design products that incorporate insights from behavioral economics, with features like automatic reminders or rewards. Read the rest of this entry »

> Posted by Monique Cohen, Ph.D., Founding-President, Microfinance Opportunities

The following post was originally published on the Child and Youth Finance International Blog.

“I am not good at managing my money. I need some extra training so that I can know how to manage myself. Because you know money is like trouble. You get big money and it’s like big trouble, you know,” (A young man living in Nairobi, 2011).

Walk down any street in Nairobi, Dar es Salam, or Cairo, or in a small African town and it seems everyone, including teenagers, has a phone to their ear. Indeed, for those 18 and under, few have known a world without mobiles. Not surprisingly, school-age boys and girls (5-14), teens (14-18), and young people entering the labor force or tertiary education (over 18) are seen as a potential new market for the provision of financial services. While recent experimentation in this space has focused on savings, there is growing consensus that young people should be able to access a full range of financial services, with the priorities changing as they advance in their life cycle (see YouthSave, YouthStart, and Child and Youth Finance International). Not only are youth savings and youth financial education hot topics in the financial services space, but there is also a growing recognition that young people have money, and technology-based financial services offer a gateway for their financial inclusion. Read the rest of this entry »

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The views and opinions expressed on this blog, except where otherwise noted, are those of the authors and guest bloggers and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Center for Financial Inclusion or its affiliates.

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