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Assessing Youth Financial Needs in Cross River State

MEDA is partnering with Cuso International to improve financial inclusion for youth in Nigeria. The project titled Youth Leadership, Entrepreneurship, Access and Development (YouLead) works with young women and men in Cross River State, Nigeria.

Following MEDA's detailed institutional assessment of financial sector in Cross River State, five financial inclusion partners were selected for capacity building support. Subsequently, an assessment of Youth Financial Needs was undertaken in May-June 2015. This blog documents the key findings of this assessment.

Why was the assessment needed?

  1. To understand the financial behavior and needs of youth in Cross River State;
  2. To develop and make recommendations for youth oriented products and services; and
  3. To identify capacity building opportunities for the partner microfinance institutions.

How was it done?

A series of Focus Group Discussions (FGDs) and individual questionnaires with 99 young people (57% male and 43% female) within the18-35 age group.youlead

What did we find?


  • All have some level of education with the majority (44%) having completed graduate school
  • 75% of participants earn up to 25,000 Niara or approximately CAD$167 per month.

More specifics include:

High level of formal savings - 90% have accounts:

  • There still remains a large number using informal saving services - 32% males and 21% women

Desire for products and services:other services products

  • 78% of respondents want a loan
  • 14% of males and 5% of females currently have loans
  • In terms of usefulness of training and education, 90 to 91 percent of respondents confirmed that training has and would prove “very useful” for them.

Strong entrepreneurial culture and desire to start and/or expand business:

  • Two thirds want to start and/or expand a business
  • Half of the respondents started businesses with less than 100,000 Naira or approximately CAD$669 which corresponds to entry-level loan amounts
  • 70% used personal savings to start their business

Decision Making:

  • Although 64% of women earn 10,000 Naira or less each month, they report playing a significant role in financial decision making within their households. The figures showed women being the lead in decision making (marriages, buying selling jewelry, buying selling assets, children’s’ education, and other household items) while for other decisions such “Running own business” (46 % to 50%) and “Savings decision” (61% to 66%) the difference between men and women were only marginal.

Life Satisfaction:standards of living satisfaction by fender

  • Majority of the youths are dissatisfied with their current standard of living due to limited access to financial services and products, and women at over 50%, are more dissatisfied due to the increased challenges and obstacles they face in obtaining access to finance.


The current financial services market needs to improve its financial inclusion efforts, as respondents noted they are not satisfied with their current standard of living and see increased products and services as opportunities to improve their conditions. The findings demonstrate a market primed and ready for more financial services and products; to not just start new businesses, but also develop and expand existing businesses.

What are the next steps and recommendations?

Recommendations to the financial service partners include increasing their capacity to serve the growing youth market by putting more resources into developing, modifying and marketing more youth-oriented services and products. As well, adding more non-financial services, such as business development counseling and advisory services, to their offerings. These provide more education and awareness that will result in better business decisions and financially responsible clients. Over the course of this project, MEDA will work with its financial service partners to address these recommendations.

Stay tuned for more interesting updates on our journey with financial inclusion for youth in Cross River State!

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