LIFE POA-THE ROAD TO YOUTH EMPOWERMENT AND FINANCIAL INDEPENDENCE
Save the Children today hosted a one-day conference at the Sarova Panafric Hotel bringing together financial services stakeholders from the private and public sector to discuss the need and possibilities for bringing Kenya’s adolescent youth into the fold of the banked. Some of the youth who have opened accounts and benefitted from the Post bank youth savings product were also present to give their views and opinions about how far they have come through the savings they have made in their Postbank savings accounts dubbed ‘SMATA’. This is a product that was successfully launched in mid-2012 with the aim of empowering adolescent youth with money management and creating a culture of financial stewardship among them. The event began with some opening remarks from the Save the Children Country Director, Mr. Duncan Harvey and Mrs Anne Karanja, the Managing Director from Post bank
Save the Children Country Director, Duncan Harvey said, “Today’s conference offers a platform for the different stakeholders to synergize and determine a direction towards expanding access to financial education and products. While the project undertaken by the YouthSave Kenya consortium was the first of its kind, we believe that the insights gathered give credence to a largely untapped opportunity that if explored, will change the lives of millions of young people.”
“By bringing more adolescent youth into the fold of the banked, we will be setting off on a journey that is bound to have positive repercussions on their future”, he added.
The conference also provided a platform for policy makers to critically assess the future of youth savings in Kenya. There were three panel discussions during the workshop that sought to inform and demystify the issue of youth and savings with most of the discussion being around the findings presented by Moses Njenga the policy analyst for the Kenya Institute of Public Policy Research and Analysis (KIPPRA) on the fact that boys are saving more than girls. According to their research, there is Male dominance in account uptake which stands at (58.9%) and female youth are more likely to be inactive account holders.
Youth participants in Youth Save related their experiences with saving and financial education and also emphasized the fact that parents need to be more approachable and transparent with regard to financial matters to their children.
“I had to lie to my mother every time I went to the Life Poa classes that were teaching us how to save and I also had to lie to her in order for me to get extra money that I would put in my savings account but she finally got to know as I had to tell her that I had been chosen to come and represent other youth who have accounts with Postbank.” Said one of the girls who had come all the way from Naivasha.
A recent study by Consumer Insight revealed that Kenyan youth between the ages of 12 and 25 spend up to Kshs 250 billion annually. While majority access the money from their parents, many are increasingly earning money through odd jobs and informal businesses. Savings is not considered a priority, a fact that could be attributed to lack of information, or limited access to banking services. As at end of September 2014 88,479 SMATA accounts, which is a specially designed savings product, have been opened.
Created in partnership with The MasterCard Foundation, YouthSave investigates the potential of savings accounts as a tool for youth development and financial inclusion in developing countries, by co-designing tailored, sustainable savings products with local financial institutions and assessing their performance and development outcomes with local researchers. The project is an initiative of the YouthSave Consortium, led by Save the Children in partnership with the Center for Social Development at Washington University in St. Louis, the New America Foundation, and the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP).