“Post originally written by Anne-Françoise Lefèvre and published on YouthSave blog.”
Meet Clarisse: a young Burkina Faso woman who runs her own hair salon. And also Issaka, another Burkina Faso youth who has recently achieved his dream of setting up his mechanics business! Their stories, and those of many other youth of low-income backgrounds who receive support to start their professional lives, were at the heart of the panel session on Youth Financial Inclusion, organized for the annual European Microfinance Platform(e-MFP) in Luxembourg.
The discussions involved representatives from different programmes who target children and young people and aim at providing them with the appropriate tools and resources to socially, professionally and financially empower them: YouthInvest/MEDA, CIF/ADA, YouthStart/UNCDF, ChildFinance. In particular, the session’s debate highlighted the core role played by savings as a gateway to the formal banking sector for the young population, as well as the need to combine the provision of financial and non-financial services, like training, internship, entrepreneurial guidance, to efficiently support their access to employment and income-earning activities.
Reaching out to youth in rural and remote areas and ensuring gender balance of beneficiaries were mentioned as common challenges for all programmes. Once again, technology innovations, like mobile phones, were identified as promising routes to further enlarging the outreach. But it seems to me that attention should equally be given to the development of appealing and customized services, able to meet the specific requirements and needs of this client segment. We should make sure that once appropriate delivery channels are in place, appropriate products are available too!
I found it very positive that so many youth financial service initiatives are in place - YouthSave, YouthInvest, YouthStart, ChildFinance, etc most of them with a strong focus on Africa. All of us have a lot to share and to learn from each other, and we have to make sure that knowledge exchange on successes and failures, as well as on good practices is happening. E-MFP plans to launch an initiative to develop synergies on youth financial inclusion as a follow-up to the Luxembourg session, so watch this space!