Savings Groups and Skills Development: A Pathway for Youth Economic Strengthening
A recent Microlinks post discusses the future of economic strengthening programming and the growing call for an innovative portfolio of strategies and interventions. The author notes that there is emerging evidence that savings groups – in combination with skills development and entrepreneurial activity – is a promising strategy to build the economic capacity of youth.
Plan International’s Youth Microfinance Project (YMF) has demonstrated success in this area through an integrated youth economic empowerment program that has promoted youth savings groups (YSGs) and delivered financial education, life skills and entrepreneurship training to nearly 90,000 youth (age 15-24) in Niger, Senegal and Sierra Leone since 2009. YMF has demonstrated that when provided with appropriate financial instruments and training, youth can make informed choices about how they manage their financial and non-financial assets. They enhance their economic self-reliance and contribute to household well-being through increased investments in nutrition, education, and health.
The Youth Microfinance Project has used multiple approaches to measure outcomes and document learning, including the SAVIX MIS, a rolling baseline and impact study, financial diaries and most significant change stories. Results of these evaluations are synthesized in Findings and Lessons from the Youth Microfinance Project, which discusses the program pathway, its impact on youth economic empowerment, and key lessons for improved service delivery. Highlights of those findings are presented on MicroLinks and the SEEP Network.