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Case Study No. 14: Product Development for Girls: Girls Savings and Financial Education


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YFS Case Study No. #14: Product Development for Girls: Girls’ Savings

and Financial Education

Youth-Inclusive Financial Services Case Study Series 2009

Youth-Inclusive Financial

Services Linkage Program


Case Study No. 14:

Product Development for Girls:

Girls’ Savings and Financial Education

Updated: September 2012


Copyright © 2009-2011 Making Cents International

Sections of this publication may be copied or adapted without permission from Making Cents International provided that the parts copied are distributed for free or at cost - not for profit.

Please credit Making Cents International and Women‟s World Banking, Youth-Inclusive Financial Services Linkage Program Case Study #14, for those sections excerpted.

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Women‟s World Banking (WWB) is a microfinance support organization that works with financial institutions across the developing world, including a network of 39 MFIs in 27 countries. This case study details how Women‟s World Banking helped its network member, XacBank of Mongolia, design and roll out savings products and financial education programs for girls ages 14 to 17. Through extensive market research, XacBank learned about the savings and banking-related needs, desires, aspirations, constraints, knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors of girls. These lessons were integrated into the design of the „Aspire‟ youth account and strongly informed the development of XacBank‟s financial education programs and marketing strategies. After careful testing and adaptation of the „Aspire‟ product, the bank now has over 8,000 Aspire accounts, and the bank now offers the account to both girls and boys, as well as to youth up to age 24, so adolescents can keep their account after starting college. These decisions made the product more inclusive and helped ensure its long-term sustainability, while still maintaining the focus on girls‟ empowerment and gender-sensitive marketing and communications. WWB has since supported two other partners to design similar products at Banco Adopem in the

Dominican Republic and PEACE in Ethiopia. This updated case study shares results from the roll-out of products at Xacbank and Adopem as well as impact results from the Xacbank program.



Institutional Background

About Women‟s World Banking

Women‟s World Banking is a global network comprised of 39 leading microfinance institutions from 27 countries. The network members are diverse in geography, size and structure but united in the firm belief that microfinance must remain committed to omen as clients, innovators and leaders. WWB works with these institutions to design financial products and services that fulfill women‟s needs while demonstrating the sustainability and social impact of serving women. By providing innovative approaches that we can replicate and scale we can prove that investing in women directly can be both profitable and generate positive social benefits. By investing in women, we produce a multiplier effect on the well-being of their households and communities.

About XacBank

In 2001, XacBank (pronounced “hahs-bank”) was created as the result of a merger between two of the largest non-bank financial institutions in Mongolia – X.A.C., (a Mongolian acronym for “Golden Fund for Development”) started in 1998 under UNDP‟s MicroStart program, and Goviin Ekhlel (Mongolian for “Gobi Start”), established by Mercy Corps in 1999 with support from USAID. A model for transformation and expansion in the microfinance world, XacBank now has branches in every province of the country and provides a full range of financial products and services to individuals and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Mongolia, including agent-based mobile phone banking. The bank‟s holding company, TenGer, recently made its first foreign microfinance investment in Kyrgyzstan.


Project Background and Goals

In 2008, Women‟s World Banking commenced a project, funded by the Nike Foundation under its “Girl Effect” initiative, to assist two of its network member microfinance institutions, XacBank in Mongolia and Banco ADOPEM in the Dominican Republic, to design and roll out savings products and financial education programs for girls and young women ages 7 to 24 (hereafter referred to simply as “girls” for the sake of brevity).

The project focuses on fundamental issues that have not yet been successfully addressed on a large scale in developing countries – providing access to financial services and changing the savings behavior of low-income girls. The central hypothesis of the project is that offering savings products, financial education programs and marketing tailored to low-income girls and their parents/guardians will provide the impetus needed for girls to achieve the following milestones in knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviors around savings: to understand the importance of savings and consider it desirable; to learn saving strategies; to open formal savings accounts which they control; to save; and to develop a savings habit.

Furthermore, it is hypothesized that these changes will have implications for the economic and social empowerment of girls through building skills around and practicing asset accumulation, risk management, goal setting and planning for the future. While in most developing countries


girls are disadvantaged in many ways when compared to boys, WWB‟s experience shows that they are also usually the primary household money managers of the future. This program will help girls learn how to play this important role as well.

The project also seeks to demonstrate the strategic benefits to financial institutions (FIs) of introducing such a program. By working with girls, WWB expects that FIs will benefit by creating future adult customers who are both more loyal and more financially sophisticated (and thus better savers and lower credit risks). The program will also enhance the FI‟s brand as an institution dedicated to developing the country through children, which, along with direct marketing through girls and others, will improve the FI‟s ability to promote products to girls‟ older family members and other adults.

3. Project Structure

In choosing to implement the Girls Savings and Financial Education project together in Mongolia, WWB and XacBank saw opportunities to build on the bank‟s existing focus on children‟s savings and its corresponding child-friendly reputation; to support a new strategic focus of the bank on client education; and to strengthen the bank‟s marketing department capabilities through working closely with WWB on the product development process. XacBank‟s experience with successfully mobilizing retail savings and its human resources flexibility to manage such a project were also key factors.

The project leveraged the skills and experience of Microfinance Opportunities (MFO), which developed a global financial education curriculum for youth; was responsible for providing technical input into the financial education content; managed monitoring and evaluation; and who implemented a qualitative impact assessment of the project, whose endline findings are detailed in a separate section. In addition, the Nike Foundation has provided expert guidance on project evaluation and facilitating communication among other girls‟ savings project implementers.

All WWB projects maintain a strong focus on market research, where WWB and its partners carefully and thoroughly assess the project‟s operating environment with a particular focus on the end-users. The needs, desires, aspirations, constraints, knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors of these end-users, in this case Mongolian girls and their parents/guardians, are central to the design of the product or service offering, and WWB maintains regular communication with the end-users and other influential stakeholders throughout the product development process. WWB also emphasizes a carefully designed and monitored pilot phase, where different approaches can be tested and mistakes made without costly implications.

XacBank Snapshot (As of 3.31.2012; USD mm;

Source: XacBank, MIX Market, WWB) Assets: 629 Loan portfolio: 414 Deposit portfolio: 266 ROE: 56.72% ROA: 5.80% Borrowers*: 75,736 Depositors*: 178,279 Service outlets: 75 Staff: *As of 2010 971


The project in Mongolia involves simultaneous development of three major components: savings products, financial education campaigns and marketing strategies. The product development lifecycle applies to all three components and is outlined below.

The following sections will focus on selected highlights of the product development process, including key insights gained through market research, their implications to product design and the results the product produced among targeted clients; the findings of the impact assessment study conducted by MFO; and the results of the parallel youth savings program at Banco ADOPEM in the Dominican Republic.

4. Client Research: Understanding How Girls Manage Money

Research for the project began with thorough secondary research on existing youth financial services programs run by deposit-taking institutions around the globe. Research on Mongolia began in the summer of 2008 and was carried out by the project team, initially consisting of the business development manager at XacBank, product development and market research experts at WWB, and financial education experts from MFO. Through the secondary, industry, internal and demand research conducted, the team gathered data on market size, literacy, child labor and child-related laws, marriage, household and gender dynamics, vulnerable groups among female youth, existing low-income youth education initiatives, computer and mobile phone use, banks and savings products (particularly XacBank‟s existing children‟s savings product, called “Future Millionaire”), personal money management and aspirations, and XacBank‟s current retail savings performance and marketing strategies.

Initially, the team had envisioned that the project would involve a modified “Future Millionaire” account complemented by a marketing strategy tailored to girls. The product is a long-term savings account with a high interest rate that allows deposits but not withdrawals (without a penalty) and that matures when a child turns 18. Future Millionaire accounts are opened by adults in the name of children any time before the child turns 16, but the adult remains in sole control of the account until it is closed early or it matures. This product constituted roughly one quarter of total deposit accounts, and was considered strategically important by the bank.


Therefore, when the team conducted client research in the fall, this product was an important focus. The research was conducted using individual interviews and focus group discussions with existing female Future Millionaire account holders, non-client girls and parents of both groups. The focus groups were segmented by age and income level.

5. Determining Delivery Channels

During the prototype design stage, it became clear that reaching girls in a cost-effective manner was going to require developing partnerships with experienced youth education professionals, since the bank did not have that expertise in-house, and with institutions already interacting with girls, since convenience was an important issue for both the

products and the financial education program. A learning visit to Hatton National Bank in Sri Lanka, a commercial bank with a large and sophisticated youth savings program, confirmed the importance of working closely with schools to collect deposits from children.

When the team gathered in Mongolia in early 2009 to prepare for the pilot, addressing this issue was a priority. Thorough research and interviews with potential partners were vital to successful partner selection. The team chose a local NGO staffed with veteran school teachers and extensive experience implementing education projects through public schools to be the primary partner. The team also wanted to make sure to reach very poor girls who had dropped out of school, and thus selected a second, community-based NGO that was already successfully implementing a program to reach this more vulnerable, out-of-school population.

Finding: Even though no bank was then providing services to girls under 16, the team looked hard at the relevant Mongolian laws and found that children 14 and over are permitted to open accounts and withdraw money independently.

Implication: XacBank was the first bank in Mongolia to offer accounts to 14 and 15 year-olds.

Finding: Client research indicated that girls whose parents had opened Future Millionaire accounts for them were aware of the account but did not make transactions, were not aware of parents doing so, and did not know their account balance. Additionally, while some girls appreciated the withdrawal restriction feature, others thought that age 18 was too long to wait to have access to the money, and still others wanted no restrictions at all. The team also found that almost all girls both received some money that could be saved regularly and understood the importance of doing so.

Implication: Girls were ready to save, but the team would have to design a new set of products and a new marketing strategy to meet girls‟ needs and engage them in saving. For the pilot, the team designed three products with and without withdrawal restrictions. The market‟s collective desire for this range was confirmed during the pilot: the split between accounts opened with and without restrictions was 60 / 40.


The team devised three models to provide the most appealing and efficient offering to girls: 1) School-based: the first model involved providing financial education sessions in schools as

an extracurricular activity, using female university students as trainers. The primary NGO partner established the program in schools, selected and trained the university students and supervised the trainings.

2) Community-based: the second model provided financial education through the community-based NGO working girls, using their own staff in their own existing training centers located near markets where girls work.

3) Marketing-based: The third model was purely direct marketing and consisted of branch staff making brief presentations of the product to groups of girls in nearby schools.

In the first two models, the financial education was comprised of eight sessions on savings, banks, and budgeting, and was provided to groups of 20 girls each. A focused curriculum was developed and the team engaged the primary NGO partner to adapt it for the Mongolian context. The bank staff also made presentations on the product at key points during the education program, and each club visited the pilot branch for an introduction and tour.

6. Pilot Outcomes and Challenges

After a three-month pilot, which included a full cycle of financial education, the team evaluated the program and made the necessary modifications in preparation for the roll out. Developing a monitoring plan with clear objectives and corresponding indicators was important for the team to be able to learn from the pilot, as were interviews and focus groups conducted with pilot clients

Finding: At the point of the prototype design stage, bank staff was still uncertain about the feasibility of the program. In addition, the bank‟s project manager had already changed twice due to personal shuffles. However, individual interviews and focus groups held with girls, parents and school teachers during the prototype testing confirmed clients‟ excitement and desire for financial education and tailored savings products and helped reinforce the mutual value propositions that existed. The exchange visit to Sri Lanka deepened convictions that the program was both feasible and valuable.

Implication: The project team, including experienced bank staff, “bought into” the program. They were, in turn, able to win the allocation of other, much-needed resources. The team realized the importance of personal contact with the program to gain more support from key stakeholders. Before the pilot, the team presented the program to a quarterly gathering of all branch managers. The team also announced a contest for bank staff to come up with a brand name; all senior managers participated. And during the pilot, the team made sure that all executives observed financial education classes. Momentum for the program has continued to grow.


and stakeholders. The most important objective was to learn as much as possible in preparation for the roll out.

The results were encouraging, but there remained work to be done. Pre- and post-tests for financial education participants showed significant improvement in key self-reported knowledge, attitudes and behaviors; the girls particularly appreciated the university student trainers and the branch visit. The curriculum, however, proved to be more difficult for working girls due to their lower levels of literacy. As a result, the community-based NGO was engaged to further adapt the financial education for this market segment.

Furthermore, a combined account holder and financial education participant database revealed that the pilot had achieved low product conversion rates (percentage of participants that opened accounts) through all three delivery models. Financial education participants interviewed who did not open accounts did, however, report saving more at home for shorter-term needs, and thus asked parents for money less often.

The pilot also revealed that girls liked the design of the promotional materials and the name chosen (which roughly translates to “Aspire”), confirming the results of XacBank‟s market research. Originally, the bank had designed two youth debit cards, but after testing both, girls responded overwhelmingly to the “cuter” design (featured below to the right) that reflects overall design elements that are now used in all Aspire materials.

At the time the pilot was evaluated, 262 girls had participated in the financial education program, and 80 girls had opened a total of 86 accounts, as some girls had both a time and a deposit account. It became clear, however, that expanding the reach of Aspire would be helped by incorporating support services that were tangential to financial services. Though preparing and distributing information sheets for working girls on how to obtain identification cards is not a typical practice when providing financial services, it has, nevertheless, empowered more girls to access financial services that would otherwise remain out of reach.


7. Pilot to Product: Rolling-out Aspire

From the inception of the Aspire project, WWB, XacBank and MFO had hypothesized that changing the savings behavior of girls would require the simultaneous development of what they believed were the three major components of the project: the savings products, financial education campaigns, and marketing strategies. Consequently, documenting the roll out of the Aspire project can best be summarized in three segments, each corresponding to one of the three major components.

Savings Products

After the initial product piloting of Aspire, XacBank decided to continue offering both time and demand deposit savings accounts for girl clients aged 14 to 24. In order to offer youth-friendly

Finding: Market research uncovered numerous insights including:

 Girls responded to incentives when opening and using their accounts.

 Girls listened and responded to other girls, which opened a door for more effective marketing.

 Marketing savings products offered an opportunity to educate girls about financial services.

 Branch staff needed training to successfully address girls‟ unique challenges and needs.

 Buy-in among teachers and parents helped encourage student participation.

 Opening accounts was a lot more difficult than expected, as girls cited having accounts in other banks; held a belief that they did not have enough money; and, for working girls, cited lack of official ID as an obstacle.

Implication: Despite the overwhelmingly positive feedback the program received when the prototype was tested before the pilot, more had to be done for girls to open accounts. For the roll out, various modifications to the models were made:

 New and improved incentives for opening accounts were tested and introduced.

 The direct marketing model was improved, including involvement of school girls themselves as direct marketers and more integration of the savings products into the financial education component of the program.

 Financial education messages were added to all marketing to improve effectiveness.

 Special emphasis was placed on training for branch staff in communications and direct marketing, and direct marketing toolkits developed for them.

 Branch staff and schools decided to organize more presentations for girls as well as for parents and teachers, as interviews uncovered how important these parties were to girls‟ participation in financial education and saving.

 Handouts on how to obtain official IDs were produced and made available to all girls, especially very low-income girls.


products in ways that better reflect the realities of young people The Aspire savings products have a 70% lower minimum balance requirement and a 50% lower fee on savings passbooks than XacBank‟s adult accounts.

Girls can open an Aspire account with approximately US$2.50, which is also the minimum balance requirement to maintain the account. The terms on time deposits vary anywhere from 3 to 24 months and offer interest rates between 10 and 14 percent, while demand deposit accounts offer an interest rate of 6 percent. There is a small fee for withdrawing funds from both the demand and time deposit accounts, and a more significant fee, roughly US$ 0.84, for closing the account before it reaches maturity. Passbooks cost roughly US$0.40.

Financial Education Campaigns

As schools became even more important to the model of integrated delivery of financial education and product promotion, the Aspire project team decided they needed a way for the bank to build close, long-term relationships with them. The team originally developed a partnership model, drawing from both the Sri Lankan and local experience, that included three levels of increasing commitment from both bank and school:

 Model 1: Directly marketing in schools to students with financial education messages integrated into marketing.

 Model 2: Directly marketing in schools to students and providing facilitated financial education courses.

 Model 3: Directly marketing in schools to students, providing more facilitated financial education courses and sponsoring a classroom in the school.

Rolling out the models of partnership, however, revealed that a three-tiered partnership model was too complicated. The team has since simplified their partnerships with schools by focusing on Model 2: both directly marketing to schools and providing some facilitated financial education courses. The simplification has allowed XacBank to focus more closely on two to three schools per branch, providing a more mutually beneficial arrangement for schools, students and the bank.

Marketing Strategies

To effectively communicate with girls, XacBank designed and tested promotional materials to ensure their relevance to younger clients. The bank then launched a marketing campaign that included a variety of mediums for reaching out to girls and partners. The bank used advertisements on television, radio and other mass media outlets, including incorporating on-line advertisements on websites popular with girls and a branded mobile savings application to help raise awareness for Aspire. Reflecting the ever increasing sophistication of XacBank and the Aspire project, a system of branded gift incentives was devised for higher balance savers with time deposit accounts.

As schools began playing a larger role in reaching youth, XacBank began sponsoring events and combining financial education with product presentations to students, and even created a Student


Banker program, in which leading students helped XacBank organize financial education events at school and functioned as sales representatives for Aspire.

8. Impact Assessment Study (MFO) – Findings

In September 2011, Microfinance Opportunities (MFO) completed its endline impact assessment study, “Savings and Financial Education for Girls in Mongolia”1, based on results from baseline and endline research conducted approximately 18 months apart. The objective of the study was to assess the impact of XacBank‟s youth savings program on girls‟ knowledge, skills, and attitudes (KSAs) and behavior around financial management and savings.

Key findings include the following: Impact on Girls

Financial education makes a difference on savings: “Savings Plus” girls (those who

received financial education and opened a youth savings account) saved more on average (4 times more) than “Savings Only” girls (those who only opened a youth savings

account) and more on average (2.5 times more) than Comparison girls (those who neither opened an account nor received financial education).

Enhanced capacity: “Savings Only” and “Savings Plus” girls showed significant gains in financial knowledge, skills, and attitudes compared to girls who did not (Comparison girls).

Self-esteem enhanced: “Savings Only” and “Savings Plus” girls reported a sense of pride

in managing financial affairs and a greater desire for financial autonomy. The praise and encouragement they received from their parents was very important to them. Also, “Savings Plus” girls developed social networks and teamwork skills as a result of participating in the financial education sessions.



Finding: Parents‟ understanding and excitement is vital for the success of girl savers; full cooperation and support from parents and teachers helps build excitement for the product. Implications: XacBank‟s presence in schools has helped it reach more girl savers, but has also exposed capacity gaps. While combining product presentation and financial education has resulted in low-cost school events, other effective school based programs have exposed the need for professional development among bank staff in guiding and supporting Student Bankers.


Savings seen as important . . . : Almost all girls who received a savings account along with or without financial education viewed savings as important.

. . . but disconnected from big picture: Few of the girls developed a formal savings plan linked to life goals. This may be attributable to a need for better financial education, for better savings product design, for a longer time horizon for the study, to the age of the study subjects, or to a combination of those factors.

Increased control: “Savings Only” and “Savings Plus” girls had more control over their savings than Comparison girls, whose parents had more of a role.

Impact on Financial Institution

For the bank, a gateway product: Strong commitment to the youth accounts, which were viewed as a loss leader but one that will help secure a base of lifelong, loyal customers over a long-term time horizon.

Positive view of XacBank: Girls who opened Temuulel accounts had a much more positive view of XacBank by the endline than they had had at the baseline; many vowed to stay with XacBank after they reached adulthood.

Increased parental awareness of XacBank products: Increase in overall awareness of XacBank and its products to the parents of the girls.

. . . but low product uptake among parents: Despite exposure to XacBank product offerings, uptake among parents of adult savings products was not as strong as hoped.

Expanded offer to boys: XacBank expanded the program to boys when initial uptake projections fell short.

Impact on Peers / Community

Beneficial “spillover” effect confirmed: Girls shared their experiences with peers, family, and community and encouraged peers to open savings accounts as well.

Potential policy implications: XacBank opened negotiations with Ministry of Education to formalize financial education into school curricula.

9. Youth Savings Program at Banco ADOPEM (DR)

While the youth savings program development was underway in Mongolia, WWB was also assisting its network member, Banco ADOPEM in the Dominican Republic, to develop its youth savings program under the same “Girl Effect” initiative funded by the Nike Foundation.

As a result of comprehensive market research conducted in the Domininan Republic, as well as emerging lessons learned in Mongolia, Banco ADOPEM and WWB designed a youth savings product named “Mía” (“Mine”) for youth ages 7-24. The product was originally only offered to girls, but the bank later made a business decision to offer the product to boys as well, similar to XacBank. However, while XacBank only offered Aspire to an age segment that did not require a guardian, Banco ADOPEM decided to also segment Mía by age. For youth ages 7-15, the minimum opening balance is DOP 100 (USD$2.50) and a guardian is required, while the minimum opening balance for youth ages 16-24 is DOP 200 (US$5) and a guardian is not required.


Banco ADOPEM also launched youth-friendly marketing strategies, as with XacBank, including marketing materials with attractive imagery and messaging; colorful passbooks; incentive schemes; and welcoming branch layouts. Banco ADOPEM also incorporated Mía “corners” that displayed colorful message boards with information and photos about Mía.

The format of the financial education curriculum for youth in the Dominican Republic, also developed by MFO, was initially the same as in Mongolia – eight sessions on savings, banks, and budgeting. However, the format was eventually reduced to three sessions, as managing and implementing a financial education program in the Dominican Republic proved more challenging and expensive than in Mongolia. Given these challenges to reaching scale with the classroom financial education format, Banco ADOPEM has also implemented additional financial education interventions, including interactive Jeopardy-like games to test financial knowledge as well as the incorporation of savings plans that are developed and monitored during in-branch transactions.

10. Conclusion

Since launching the pilot in March 2009, XacBank has opened close to 8,000 Aspire accounts. Careful adaptations after the pilot helped to significantly increase the number of savings accounts, as well as increase girls‟ participation in financial education campaigns. In addition, the average savings balance has doubled from US$37 (in August 2010) to US$74 (as of March 2012). Meanwhile, XacBank continues to pursue financial education and has reached over 18,000 girls. The Aspire program has grown to include all XacBank branches and also to include boys – marketing was adapted to target boys offering the same youth savings product with the same terms that were successful with girls, but with different passbooks and adapted marketing materials.

Since its pilot in January 2010, Banco ADOPEM has opened over 12,000 Mía accounts for girls and boys, with an average savings balance of USD$16, and over 5,000 youth have participated in financial education. Also, as of December 2011, the Mía youth savings program has been rolled out to all of Banco ADOPEM‟s branches across the country.

Based on the lessons learned in Mongolia and the Dominican Republic, Women‟s World Banking has partnered with PEACE MFI, its network member microfinance institution in Ethiopia, to deliver financial education and savings products to youth, as part of YouthStart, a UNCDF initiative established in partnership with The MasterCard Foundation that aims to increase access to financial services for low-income youth in sub-Saharan Africa. PEACE MFI is a microfinance institution founded in November 1999 and has a network of 19 branches across Ethiopia. After conducting in-depth market research and designing product prototypes, WWB and PEACE MFI developed the Lenege or “For Tomorrow” youth savings program, which was launched in December 2011. This program consists of a youth-controlled savings account for semi-urban, in-school and out-of-school youth, as well as a complementary, practical financial education curriculum delivered by branch staff to in-school and out-of-school youth.

The success of the youth savings program in Mongolia is the result of continuous evaluations, product tweaks, ongoing market research from prototype through product roll out, and the commitment of bank personnel in supporting and marketing the youth savings program. Whether


learning to partner with NGOs to extend financial products to girls outside the influence of schools, or incorporating market tested design concepts and incentives to encourage larger balance savers, XacBank has succeeded by carefully researching these issues and testing and evaluating them for effectiveness. The team is encouraged by what it has achieved so far and is optimistic about the evolving program‟s ability to change the knowledge, skills, attitudes, behaviors and ultimately the savings habits of Mongolian girls and boys. In doing so it has created a sustainable program that is beneficial to both XacBank and its youth clients.


 Buy-in of key bank personnel, achieved through learning visit and personal exposure to girls

 In-depth research and continuous stakeholder feedback

 Flexible, inclusive and simple product offering

 Engaging outside expertise (NGOs) when needed

 A pilot with clear learning objectives and a robust monitoring plan

 Developing strong, mutually-beneficial partnerships to reach clients

 Integrating marketing and financial education delivery and content



1. Abeywickrema, C. (2009, September). The role of the Hatton National Bank in creating access to financial services for youth in

Sri Lanka. Hatton National Bank. Accessible at: http://www.makingcents.com/products_services/resources.php

Hatton National Bank (HNB), a prominent commercial bank in Sri Lanka, has been committed to providing financial services in rural areas and to more vulnerable populations for years. More recently, HNB has begun to focus on serving youth in two key ways: 1) establishing Student Banking Centers in schools 2) targeting youth in rural areas in their village microfinance programs to receive both financial and non-financial services. This case study examines key methodologies to effectively serving youth with financial services through a commercial lending model.

2. Ahammed, I. (2009, September). A case study on financial services for street children. Padakhep. Accessible at:


Padakhep is a non-government organization (NGO) in Bangladesh that strives to reach street children through an integrated approach. This case study details the innovative “Introduction of Financial Services” program which provides both credit and savings services to Dhaka street kids to encourage them to initiate income generating activities of their own. A key lesson that emerged was that flexible terms and conditions of financial products are essential for working with an extremely vulnerable target population like urban street children.

3. Austrian, K. & Ngurukie, C. (2009, September). Safe and smart savings products for vulnerable adolescent girls in Kenya & Uganda. Population Council & MicroSave Consulting Ltd.

Accessible at: http://www.makingcents.com/products_services/resources.php

This case study details the unique partnership between Population Council, a research-focused NGO, and MicroSave, a consulting firm, to develop and deliver critical financial services to adolescent girls by partnering with four financial institutions in Kenya. This case study shows that by offering girls secure savings products they can mitigate some of the hardships they endure as well as encourage positive savings habits, thereby increasing their economic stability as they transition to adulthood.

4. Chandani, T. & Twamuhabwa, W. (2009, September). A partnership to offer educational loans to nursing students in Uganda.

Banyan Global & Equity Bank. Accessible at: http://www.makingcents.com/products_services/resources.php

Equity Bank-Uganda and Banyan Global have successfully partnered in Uganda to develop an innovative loan product that links workforce development in the health sector with microfinance. This case study describes the key elements of success of their pilot to bring education loans to aspiring nurses between the ages of 17 and 24. Equity Bank proves that by approaching youth who are formally affiliated with a training institution can be critical to alleviating risk, gaining trust and achieving market share.

5. Kashfi, F. (2009, September). Youth financial services: The case of BRAC and the adolescent girls of Bangladesh. BRAC.

Accessible at: http://www.cyesnetwork.org/sites/default/files/Case%20Study%20on%20BRAC%20and%20Youth.pdf

Ten years after beginning adolescent-focused initiatives in Bangladesh, BRAC realized that financial independence can play a key role in empowering adolescent girls further. This case study focuses on the Employment and Livelihood for Adolescents (ELA), which offers both credit and savings services to adolescent girls. Findings indicate that using a holistic approach to financial service delivery customized to the needs of adolescents will equip the girls to invest better and take higher loans on average.

6. Gepaya, L.Y. (2009, September). Youth inclusive financial services: Marketing and delivery is what matters. Panabo

Multi-Purpose Cooperative. Accessible at: http://www.makingcents.com/products_services/resources.php

The Panabo Multi-Purpose Cooperative (PMPC) is a cooperative based in the Philippines and a part of the global World Council of Credit Unions (WOCCU) network. This case study describes how PMPC discovered that partnerships with schools can be an effective form of growing membership, promoting a culture of savings at a young age, and delivering much-needed financial services to underserved youth populations.

7. Harnest, J. & Neilson, E. (2009, September). Microfinance and “the next generation” The FINCA Aflatoun curriculum implemented in an MFI setting. Finca Peru & Aflatoun. Accessible at:


Aflatoun, an organization committed to social development and financial literacy for children between the ages of 6-14, has begun partnering with select microfinance institutions (MFIs) to offer its curricula to clients‟ children. This case study discusses Aflatoun‟s work with FINCA Peru detailing the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges associated with implementing Aflatoun curricula in a non-formal school setting with children of microfinance beneficiaries. Findings from this project indicate that children who consistently attend classes have demonstrated a strong willingness to save.


8. Denomy, J. (2009, September). MEDA works with youth: YouthInvest. Mennonite Economic Development Associates.

Accessible at: http://www.makingcents.com/products_services/resources.php

This case study provides an overview of MEDA‟s work on increasing youth access to financial services, particularly through

YouthInvest in Egypt and Morocco. Detailed in this case study, YouthInvest was designed with a strong market research component, the results of which are crucial to designing successful financial and non-financial services for youth.

9. Massie, J.(2009, September). Using innovative partnerships and market research to link financial education and savings

products for girls. MicroFinance Opportunities. Accessible at:http://www.makingcents.com/products_services/resources.php

Microfinance Opportunities working with Savings and Economic Empowerment grantees to develop financial literacy modules that will be closely linked to their savings products. For the first time, market research is informing both the design of financial education and financial products for young women. This effort is carried out through innovative partnerships between MFO, youth service organizations, and financial institutions. This case study provides an overview of these partnerships and how they conduct market research, the integral role of these results in designing of appropriate savings products for youth.

10. Nazneen, S. (2009, September). Save the Children’s youth financial services: Adolescent girls project. Save the Children.

Accessible at: http://www.makingcents.com/products_services/resources.php

This case study describes the Kishoree Kontha (Adolescent Girls‟ Voices) Project implemented by Save the Children in 5 sub-districts of southern Bangladesh. The goal of this intervention is to link savings schemes with other non-financial services, such as health and education, to allow rural adolescent girls to build their human, social and economic assets. Additionally, this case study details how Save the Children dealt with traditional gender roles, as adolescent girls are not decision-makers, through intense community outreach and sensitization.

11. Cilimkovic, S. & Jahic, S. (2009, September). Youth inclusive financial services: A case study from Bosnia. Partner

Microcredit Foundation. Accessible at: http://www.makingcents.com/products_services/resources.php

Partner Microcredit Foundation is a non-profit microfinance institution in Bosnia Herzogovina that recently piloted a youth loan product. The goal of this youth program was toincrease self-employment opportunities for young people in Bosnia and Herzegovina by providing access to loan capital in addition to market-oriented business training and mentorship services for youth clients. This case study describes in extensive detail the experience of Partner MK in conducting market, research, designing a specialized youth loan product, and the preliminary outcomes and lessons learned of this program.

12. Schiller, J. (2009, September). Making financial services and business skills development available to African children and youth: Accomplishments and limitations of research and monitoring. Plan International. Accessible at:


This case study examines Plan International‟s situation analysis research carried out in Senegal, Niger and Sierra Leone. This project identifies active youth groups and presents a profile of youth and their activities and their general socio-economic conditions in each locality. This project focuses on the Village Savings and Loan (VSL) program in the three countries. The associations formed are sustainable and replicable, and the local implementing partner institutions have been effective and successful in all three program countries Overall, youth‟s response has encouraged the project to believe that dramatic upscale is possible.

13. Storm-Swire, L. (2009, September). Exploring youth financial services: The case of ProMujer in Bolivia. ProMujer.

Accessible at: http://www.makingcents.com/products_services/resources.php

Pro Mujer is an international women‟s development and microfinance organization that alleviates poverty in Latin America by providing financial services, healthcare and training to poor women entrepreneurs. This case study details the process of developing a group-based loan product targeted at youth, with results indicating that significant investment in proper market research, product development, staff and infrastructure is required to determine the differing needs of this heterogeneous market.

14. Shell, B. (2009, September, updated 2012, September). Product development for girls: Girls’ savings and financial education.

Women’s World Banking. Accessible at:http://www.makingcents.com/products_services/resources.php

This case study examines how Women‟s World Banking has helped two of its network members, XacBank of Mongolia and Banco ADOPEM in the Dominican Republic, design and roll out savings products and financial education programs for girls and young woman ages 7-24. WWB found that reaching girls cost-effectively required developing strategic partnerships – with experienced youth education professionals, since the bank did not have that expertise in-house, and with institutions already interacting with girls, since convenience is an important issue for both the products and the financial education program.


15. Making Cents International and Equity Bank LTD. (2012, February). Youth-Inclusive Financial Services: Scaling Up and

Mobile Banking. Equity Bank. Accessible at:http://www.makingcents.com/products_services/resources.php

This case study explores the experience of Equity Bank, a commercial bank based in Nairobi, Kenya and the largest African majority owned company in East and Central Africa with a base of over 7.15 million customers. In Equity Bank‟s experience the business and social case are strong for youth-inclusive financial services as its youth product grew by 216% from December 2008 through December 2011. Considering the extent of Kenya‟s growing youth population, Equity has had to learn to quickly scale-up its financial and non-financial services through a variety of innovative and youth oriented strategies, including increase of and training for staff and mobile banking service delivery channels.

16 Al-Waell, A. and Storm, L. (2011, March). First Middle Eastern Microfinance Bank Puts Youth First. Al-Amal Microfinance

Bank. Accessible at:http://www.makingcents.com/products_services/resources.php

A pioneer in Islamic microfinance, Al-Amal Microfinance Bank (Al-Amal) was established in October 2008 as the first microfinance bank in Yemen. Dedicated to providing poor micro-entrepreneurs with access to financial services, Al-Amal targets youth and women with microcredit, savings, and insurance, among other services. Through slight adaptations to its product offerings, including collateral requirements and minimum balances, Al-Amal has quickly grown its reach to thousands of Yemeni youth. In this case study, Al-Amal discusses techniques for providing young people with appropriate financial services, including staff training and youth-friendly marketing and delivery channels.


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