Lowering Barriers and Increasing Uptake
In the past few blogs, we have taken you through the journey that we took when developing youth-friendly financial products and services in Morocco, looking at the importance of supporting frontline MFI staff and making the business case for MFIs to offer youth financial products. But have we really accomplished anything? Are more youth accessing financial services?
Let’s begin this final blog entry on our YouthInvest Praxis Series by looking at the strategies that were deployed to facilitate access to and improve usage of our partners’ financial products and services. It was YouthInvest’s philosophy that access to financial services should never be a solitary offering, but should be paired with the appropriate training. This was one of the cornerstones of our approach, where we worked to ensure that clients were not only able to access products appropriate to their needs, but also understood the products and services they were availing.
Over the course of the six year project, we worked with financial service providers (FSPs) to make improvements on youth access to savings and loan products by focusing on the following:
Facilitate youth access to savings products by partnering with Financial Service Providers (FSPs).
Improve youth access to Microfinance Institutions by training local MFIs on the importance of working with youth.
Eliminate barriers to financial services by partnering with MFIs to design youth-tailored products
In combination with improving youth access to financial services, we trained youth and MFIs to ensure successful usage of financial products and services. In particular, we focused on the following strategies:
Train youth on the importance of savings to improve account usage, demonstrating the improvement of usage over time.
Train front-line MFI staff to deliver a condensed module on financial education to youth clients, in order to reduce indebtedness and contribute to improved usage of loans.
What we saw in our savings product was that 23,362 young Moroccans were accessing the savings product with partner Al Barid Bank and that 19,428 youth were trained on a mix of soft skills and financial education training, including on savings1. Furthermore, we saw that 26% of youth were considered “high savers,” meaning that they were saving over 1,000MAD2.
Throughout the project, we aimed to increase youth access to financial services - namely savings and loan products - and improve usage of these services over time and beyond the life of project. Our experience in Morocco demonstrates that current barriers in access to savings and credit products can be reduced when YSO and FSPs establish partnerships and when all have their awareness raised on the benefits of reaching youth clients.
What interventions have been successful in increasing access and effective usage of financial services in your programming?
Do you use different interventions depending on the client group? Do you find that youth require different support mechanisms than other clients?
1:There is some overlap in these numbers as some youth participated in more than one training program.
2: In June 2014, the final month of YouthInvest implementation, 1,000 Moroccan Dirhams was worth approximately USD121.51. http://www.xe.com/currencytables/?from=MAD&date=2014-06-01