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Violet is 21 years old, married and a mother of two. She is also the owner of a steelworks business where her husband is one of her employees. When she speaks of expanding her business, her voice is full of confidence and hope, undeterred when others make jokes about how she manages her husband.
Originally posted on the Business Fights Poverty blog
Violet is 21 years old, married and a mother of two. She is also the owner of a steelworks business where her husband is one of her employees. When she speaks of expanding her business, her voice is full of confidence and hope, undeterred when others make jokes about how she manages her husband. Violet lives in Uganda, where 62 per cent of the youth are unemployed, the highest in Sub Saharan Africa. In spite of this, she had a crucial advantage: as a member of one of BRAC’s Empowerment and Livelihood for Adolescents (ELA) clubs she has been able to access financial services since she was 16.
The importance of financial services for young people in developing countries is surprisingly understated. With close to 90 per cent of the world’s youth population living in low-income countries, securing their transition into active economic citizenship holds the key towards achieving sustainable development in the South. These young people need to be financially savvy, and given the scarcity of jobs, entrepreneurial too.
BRAC believes that appropriate financial services are a key component of youth-focused development programming. In Uganda, Tanzania, and Bangladesh, BRAC supports adolescent clubs where young people can learn and share their experiences. This approach has proven highly effective in providing financial services and also in connecting them with other interventions such as skills training, financial literacy, and sexual and reproductive health.
Drawing from these experiences, we share three major takeaways on extending financial access to young people.
When done thoughtfully, financial services can be the game-changer in young people’s lives. As we plan how to meet the needs of the growing number of young people over the coming decades, financial services must be given full consideration as a tool for youth empowerment.
Written by Hitoishi Chakma Management Professional, Research and Development Unit, Microfinance; Moonmoon Shehrin, Deputy Manager, Research and Development Unit, Microfinance; and Isabel Whisson, Communications and Knowledge Management Officer, Microfinance, BRAC.