Top Ghana officials, representatives from more than 20 financial institutions and practitioners met in April in Accra, Ghana, to learn about YouthSave research findings and how they could encourage young people to open bank accounts and save.
About 40 people attended the first event, a forum for Ghanaian practitioners. The second event, chaired by the Minister of Youth, was aimed at policymakers.
The forum included representatives of banks and some civil society organizations. Lissa Johnson, Center for Social Development (CSD) project director, presented research findings about who saves and key banking practice considerations.
At the second event, David Ansong, CSD Global Asset Building faculty director, reported on Ghana Experiment results. Adadzewa Otoo, project manager of Save the Children USA, presented about policy gaps and opportunities.
Over five years, YouthSave investigated whether low-income youth can build savings, and if it matters for their futures, in Colombia, Ghana, Kenya and Nepal. Almost 100,000 youth across four countries opened accounts between 2012 and 2014, of which about 70,000 are included in the research study, one of the largest scientific studies of youth savings on people ages 12 to 18. YouthSave account holders saved more than $1.8 million during the initiative.
Based on findings, key banking practice considerations include offering financial services at schools, Johnson said in her presentation. Here are other practice considerations:
- Allowing greater youth participation in account management
- Establishing co-signature on custodial accounts by a “trusted adult”
- Setting limits on withdrawals
- Engaging parents
- Offering deposit incentives
- Providing access via technology (e.g. deposits via automated teller machines)
YouthSave Project Director Rani Deshpande talked about how Ghana could improve financial inclusion for youth without disadvantaging particular financial institutions. The institutions could work together on a modified “know your customer” (the process of verifying the identity of clients) for youth, provide financial education for youth, or contribute a percentage of their corporate-social-responsibility budget toward youth financial inclusion efforts, she said.
Ghana’s Minister of Finance Seth Terkper repeated his conviction about the importance youth savings, and the director of the Financial Sector confirmed that youth would be a plank in the forthcoming national policy on financial inclusion. The meeting also included presentations by the Ghana Education Service on elements of financial education currently in the school curriculum, and by Ghana’s Securities & Exchange Commission on its efforts at investment education.
CSD is part of a global consortium supported by the MasterCard Foundation that piloted YouthSave. The consortium also includes Save the Children, the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) and the New America Foundation.
To see the full YouthSave report, please click here.