In 2015 Microfinanza srl has performed the final evaluation of YouthStart, a programme implemented by UNCDF (United Nations Capital Development Fund) and financed by the MasterCard Foundation.
YouthStart is a five years project (from 2010 to 2014, with and extension to 2015) aimed at increasing financial inclusion of young people in 8 sub-Saharan countries, namely Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Malawi, Rwanda, Senegal, Togo, Uganda. YouthStart resources amount at 11.9 million USD.
The project targeted a very critical age, from 12 to 24 years old, generally a lower age than the official "young" definition in national public policy, because it is life period when a lot of important decisions in terms of work, study and family are taken, and financial and relational competencies are shaped.
YouthStart proposed a specific pilot approach, starting from the assumption that, with a significant increase in the offer of financial (mainly savings) and non‐financial (mainly financial education) services particularly targeted to young people, the financial inclusion of this specific segment of the population would increase. The problem of access to financial services is thus overcome, in the logic of the project, by addressing lack of offer of dedicated services. In order to achieve the prospected results, 10 Financial Service Providers, in the 8 countries, have been supported with grants and technical assistance in order to implement specific strategies to reach out young people.
The Financial Service providers involved in the project are:
Amhara Credit and Saving Institution - Ethiopia
Faîtière des Caisses Populaires du Burkina - Burkina Faso
Democratic Republic of the Congo
Finance Trust Bank - Uganda
Faîtière des Unités Coopératives d’Epargne et de Crédit - Togo
Opportunity International Bank of Malawi - Malawi
Partenariat pour la Mobilisation de l'Epargne et le Crédit Au Sénégal - Senegal
Poverty Eradication and Community Empowerment - Ethiopia
Umutanguha Finance Company - Rwanda
The program has been largely successful in reaching out the foreseen number of people, with 515,000 active clients up the 31st of December 2014, which is more than the double of the overall target of 200,000. Moreover, YouthStart clients collected USD 14.8 million in accumulated youth savings balance as of December 2014, (with an average balance per saver of $29.90) . The project has been fairly efficient from this point of view, with an average 20.53 USD spent per each active client reached by the project on top of increasing the outreach to young clients, the program proved that such a strategy can be sustainable for FSPs in the medium term. Youth products of 2 out of 10 FSPs are financially sustainable at the end of their 3 years pilot intervention, while for 9 out of 10 the investment in youth products has become a permanent strategy of the FSP and will be financed with internal resources at the end of the project. FSPs therefore perceive, after the intervention, that targeting young people is a valuable investment.
Considering the pilot nature of the program in terms of ‘testing’ an approach and different activities through FSPs (the primary level of intervention), the limited engagement of actors and stakeholders at the macro (policy makers, regulators, etc.) and meso (MFI networks, etc.) level has necessarily restricted the (possible) influence of the program on policies and regulations and the ‘demonstration’ effects at the market level.
The evaluation team included 7 experts, 5 from Microfinanza srl and 2 from MicrofinanzaRating, who worked from January to July 2015, visiting 6 out of the 8 countries, and 8 out of the 10 FSPs, involved in the project.
The final report can be downloaded here: