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MEDA's Evolving Approach to Youth Financial Inclusion

On Friday January 22, MEDA is very pleased to be participating in the International Forum, hosted by WUSC and CECI. The theme of the forum is ‘Inclusive Economies, Inclusive Societies: Collaborative Action for Youth and Women.’ We will be presenting a case study on our approach to financial inclusion for youth. This blog gives a preview of what we will be discussing at the event. Hope to see you there!

Al Amana client traditional shoemaker

What is financial inclusion and why is it important?

Financial inclusion means having access to a range of suitable, affordable services, including savings (formal and informal), loans and financial education. Access to youth-appropriate savings and loan products helps young people plan for their future. Youth-friendly financial services can lead to many positive outcomes, including heightened ability to manage money, build assets and improved opportunities for entrepreneurship. And yet, less than 5% of youth (ages 15-24) worldwide are currently being reached by financial services.

MEDA’s approach to financial inclusion for youth has evolved over the past 10 years, and this blog will illustrate key elements through descriptions of two projects: YouthInvest, which was implemented in Morocco from 2008 to 2014, and YouLead, active in Cross River State, Nigeria, from 2014 to 2019.ARDI Client Carpenter

Morocco: On the YouthInvest project, MEDA embarked on a two phase process to increase financial inclusion. Phase 1 focused on youth. We developed and rolled out 100 Hours to Success, a training program targeting youth 15-24 years old, which provided financial education, as well as life skills and business skills. The goal was to raise youth awareness of the financial services available to them, the terms and conditions, and the institutions that offered them.

Phase 2 focused on financial institutions. We developed a suite of training courses for banks and microfinance institutions on how to develop products for young clients, how to reduce their risk when serving this demographic and how to provide appropriate customer service for youth. For more detail on our work in Morocco, visit our YouthInvest Praxis series in English and French).

Nigeria: In collaboration with Cuso International, YouLead promotes youth employment and entrepreneurship. While Cuso International is responsible for overall implementation including skills and entrepreneurship training for youth, MEDA is responsible for improving financial inclusion for youth. MEDA provides technical support to local financial service providers to enable them to develop gender-responsive financial services and products for youth. Adaptations were made to our suite of training courses from YouthInvest to accommodate the Nigerian context. In effect, the project is similar to YouthInvest in that interventions from both YouthInvest phases are included, but are done by different implementers, i.e. Cuso and MEDA. Financial services is only one piece of the puzzle.

Key results in Morocco and Nigeria

YouthInvest Morocco (completed in 2014):

  • 28,812 youth trained
  • 23,362 youth linked to savings
  • 2,110 youth linked to loans
  • 8,868 youth loan renewals after Customer Service training
  • Trained 655 local partner staff on soft skills training, financial education, Customer Service and Product Development
  • Total outreach (combined partner staff trained and youth) = 63,807

YouLead Nigeria (2014-2019):

  • Sensitization workshops conducted with financial institutions, including 2 of 5 workshops (Risk Management and Customer Service for Youth). To date, over 50 staff trained.
  • More than 500 young entrepreneurs (with business plans) connected to bank representatives to initiate relationships and seek possible credit.


MEDA believes its work is not done until it is proven to be sustainable, replicable, scalable and measurable. Our youth financial inclusion work is an example of where we have been able to replicate approaches across multiple contexts. The approaches we developed in Morocco have been translated to the Nigerian context, but also to our work in Ethiopia, Yemen and beyond. This Friday, at the International Forum, we will share key elements that have made our work innovative and sustainable. We hope to see you there! We will also be sharing our discussions at the International Forum on this blog, with a follow up entry, so stay tuned.

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