2014 News

Kids in developing countries can, do save

​Children in four developing countries saved more than $1.8 million during the YouthSave initiative, one of the largest scientific studies of the effect of savings on people ages 12 to 18.

The amount they saved — in Colombia, Ghana, Kenya and Nepal combined — was among research results highlighted by Lissa Johnson, a YouthSave project director and the administrative director of the Center for Social Development,in a presentation in Washington, D.C.

“The question is, ‘Will the youth open accounts?’ In fact, yes, they do,” Johnson told audience members at the conference “A Multi-Generational Approach to Global Poverty Alleviation: Experiences from YouthSave and Beyond.”

Johnson was on a panel of experts New America convened in October to explore questions related to the use of youth savings accounts as a poverty alleviation tool in the developing world. The YouthSave research study included about 70,000 new accounts.

An estimated 42 percent of the children in the study live on less than $2.50 a day, and most of them had never had an account, Johnson said. But from mid-2012 to May 2014, the children amassed more than $1.8 million.

“So I think it’s pretty clear these kids are interested [in saving],” Johnson said, “and they’re willing when they have a product that works for them.”

The final research report about the results of the five-year YouthSave project is scheduled for release in January. To learn more now, see this YouTube video featuring Johnson and YouthSave Consortium colleagues Ruth Dueck-Mbeba, program manager for financial inclusion at The MasterCard Foundation, Scarlett Aldebot-Green, senior policy analyst for the asset building program at New America, and Tanaya Kilara, financial sector analyst for clients at products at the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP).

Supported by The MasterCard Foundation, YouthSave investigates the potential of savings accounts as a tool for youth development and financial inclusion in developing countries, by co-creating 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 CSD, the New America Foundation and CGAP.