The MasterCard Foundation today announced a partnership with a consortium of four organizations to conduct a landmark, global research initiative that will test how to sustainably deliver savings services to low-income youth in the developing world.
The initiative — YouthSave — is based on emerging evidence that suggests linking youth to savings may improve their economic, educational and health-related futures. The four organizations participating in the consortium are Save the Children, the Center for Social Development at Washington University in St. Louis, the New America Foundation, and CGAP (the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor).
One-third of the global population is under the age of 19, but less than 10 percent have access to financial services. Savings products that allow disadvantaged youth in developing countries to accumulate savings and assets early in life may accelerate their access to better education, greater health services, new skills and economic opportunities. However, major barriers exist for financial institutions to provide youth with savings services, including costs of services and the lack of knowledge about effective products and delivery channels.
“YouthSave will advance knowledge about how and why youth in developing countries save, and how institutions can sustainably serve their needs,” said Reeta Roy, president and CEO of The MasterCard Foundation. “We believe in testing ideas to ensure that programs are results driven and grounded in strong research.”
The study will focus on four countries with conditions favorable for youth savings: Colombia, Ghana, Kenya and Nepal. Financial institutions were selected in each country based on a variety of factors including their strategic fit and their desire to reach low-income youth. Together, these institutions will design and deliver savings services to approximately 170,000 low-income youth ages 12-18 with technical assistance from consortium members. Local research partners will also collaborate on the consortium’s studies.
“We’re seeing increasing evidence that when young people are given the opportunity and support to save money, both their economic well-being and self-esteem improve,” said Charles McCormack, President and CEO of Save the Children. “We’re excited about the potential for YouthSave to expand and document the success of the work happening on the ground.”
“This is the first and largest study of the financial and developmental impact of savings on children ages 12-18 years in the developing world,” says Kate McKee, Senior Advisor, Policy, Poverty Outreach and Aid Effectiveness, CGAP. “It will provide valuable insights to policymakers and financial institutions on how to promote savings and asset building for youth.”
Throughout the five-year project, the consortium will document the impact of savings on youth and the value for financial institutions offering savings products. This will help determine success factors and identify particular product and client characteristics. The findings will generate new evidence that will influence the development and delivery of appropriate, sustainable services to low-income youth. The YouthSave Consortium will share these findings widely in order to inform practice and policy among financial institutions, scholars, practitioners and policymakers.
“This rigorous study will advance our understanding of how and why youth in developing countries save, and how financial institutions can better serve their needs,” said Michael Sherraden, PhD, the founder and director of the Center for Social Development at Washington University in St. Louis, and recently named by TIME Magazine as one of the world’s 100 most influential people. “The findings will increase the quality and accessibility of youth savings, as well as other asset-building strategies in developing countries.” Sherraden is the Benjamin E. Youngdahl Professor of Social Developmet at Washington University.
“YouthSave is a potential triple win ? if this new savings tool generates economic opportunity, future-oriented and socially engaged youth, and financial inclusion, then that’s great for policymakers, donors and other investors in disadvantaged youth worldwide. New America couldn’t be happier to be part of this exciting, ground-breaking project,” remarked Ray Boshara, Vice President of the New America Foundation.
To ensure the highest standards of research, the consortium will form three advisory boards: country advisory boards comprised of local organizations and young people; a global expert advisory board that will guide the program; and a research advisory council that will direct the research agenda.
About The MasterCard Foundation
The MasterCard Foundation believes that every person has the potential to transform their lives, and to improve the lives of their families and their communities. By increasing access to microfinance and youth education for people in developing countries, the foundation is enabling them to realize their potential and lift themselves out of poverty. The foundation’s vision is to make the economy work for everyone. It is an independent, private foundation based in Toronto, Canada, with assets totaling $3 billion. It was established through the generosity of MasterCard Worldwide at the time of the company’s initial public offering in 2006. For more information, visit www.themastercardfoundation.org.
About the Consortium
Save the Children
Save the Children is the leading independent organization for children in need, with programs in 120 countries, including the United States. Save the Children is made up of 29 member organizations working together worldwide to inspire breakthroughs in the way the world treats children, and to achieve immediate and lasting change in their lives by improving their health, education and economic opportunities. YouthSave will be led by Save the Children Canada and Save the Children USA, drawing on their expertise in implementing large-scale programs in developing countries, including interventions to build and protect assets for vulnerable children and their families. For more information, visit www.savethechildren.org.
The Center for Social Development
The Center for Social Development has been a pioneer in research on savings and asset-building for almost 20 years, informing major product, service and policy developments around the world. Based at the Washington University in St. Louis, CSD conducts research that informs how individuals, families and communities increase capacity, formulate and reach life goals, and contribute to the economy and society. For more information, visit http://csd.wustl.edu.
The Consultative Group to Assist the Poor
CGAP, a leading resource for the advancement of microfinance, will contribute resources and technical assistance for the financial capability activities. It provides the financial industry, governments and investors with objective information, expert opinion and innovative solutions to effectively expand access to finance for poor people around the world. For more information, visit www.cgap.org.
New America Foundation
The New America Foundation, through its Global Assets Project, has expertise in the design and advancement of policies, products and programs that build savings and assets for the poor and the vulnerable, including children and youth, around the world. It is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy institute that invests in new thinkers and new ideas to address the next generation of domestic and global challenges. For more information, visit www.newamerica.net.