From 2008 to 2014, MEDA implemented the YouthInvest project in Morocco and Egypt. During that time, we reached over 63,000 youth with financial and non-financial services, and built the capacity of our partner staff to provide skills training and financial products to youth.
But this is not the whole story.
MEDA had the opportunity to conduct an impact evaluation on YouthInvest, to better understand the cause and effect relationship between selected interventions and the outcomes we observed. The team chose to conduct a randomized control trial, meaning that Moroccan youth were divided randomly into two groups – participants, who received the intervention, and a comparison group, who did not. A baseline survey was conducted before the intervention and a follow up was scheduled for a year later. (In fact, due to delays in securing government permission to conduct the survey, the follow up did not happen until almost three years after the intervention.)
We’re very happy to release our first publication from the impact evaluation this week. In this document, we focused on the impact of our core training program, 100 Hours to Success, and the effects this training had on youth financial inclusion. In addition to life skills and entrepreneurship training, 100 Hours included approximately 40 hours of training on financial concepts, such as setting savings goals, choosing and using financial services effectively, and managing money. MEDA also facilitated linkages to financial institutions offering loans and savings services to youth.
Some Key Findings:
1. Youth keep savings accounts open – even three years after receiving financial education training
The 100 Hours training had a positive effect on savings behaviour with respect to both opening and maintaining savings accounts - well above the MENA region average of 12%. Among the trained youth, rates of maintaining a savings account went up by 31.8% after the training.
The rate of young female beneficiaries with a savings account went up by 36% following the training.
Interestingly, the rate of account opening increases most dramatically among younger youth.
2. Youth can grow their savings significantly
Youth who received the 100 Hours training saw a greater increase in the amount of their total savings compared to their counterparts in the control group over the course of three years: 71% increase in balance, versus 65%. In particular, the relative increases in savings amounts for young male training participants, at 72%, are significantly higher than for young men from the control group, at 57%.
3. Youth control over their finances grew
We also wanted to know about the effect of the training on financial decision making. After completing the 100 Hours training, there is an overarching trend of youth gaining more control over their finances. This tendency is particularly apparent for female participants. As seen below, two thirds of young women said they were able to decide how to use their money at baseline. After participating in the 100 Hours training, this number rose dramatically, to 85% having control over their money. An increased number of young men also stated that they had decision making power over their money: from 83% at baseline to 93% after the training. This is a very positive trend.
The data is still being finalized, but the impact evaluation has already yielded a wealth of information. We will incorporate this knowledge into our ongoing project design and improvement efforts, using research to improve youth outcomes.