Youth Financial Inclusion

Youth Financial Inclusion

More young people (those aged between 15 and 24) are alive today than at any other point in history – with an estimated 1.2 billion individuals and growing – of which roughly 90 percent live in developing countries. Despite this, employment, educational and entrepreneurial opportunities for young women and men remain limited, particularly for those living in economically stagnant rural areas in developing countries.

In addition to relatively high rates of unemployment, 47 percent of young adults are excluded from formal financial services in developing countries. Although access has increased by 11 percent between 2014 and 2017, usage remain low with a high proportion of savings kept outside financial institutions. Several legal and regulatory restrictions prevent youth from accessing and using formal financial services, including:

  • Age restrictions: Youth below a certain age (varying between 18–21) are often not allowed to open accounts without the supervision of parents, legal guardians or third parties.

 

  • KYC requirements: Most youth lack traditional documents that meet Know-Your-Customer requirements. According to the World Bank, 40 percent of the 1.1 billion people worldwide who lack proper identification documents are under the age of 18.

 

  • Lack of traditional collateral or guarantees: Financial service providers often require proof of a regular income or land ownership, which many youth do not possess.

 

  • Lack of financial track record: Credit risk assessments are often based on traditional sources, such as credit history. Youth typically do not have credit histories at formal financial institutions or detailed records of business activities.

Despite these challenges, AFI members are increasingly recognizing the importance of youth financial inclusion. At the AFI Global Policy Forum in 2019, for example, they unanimously approved the Kigali Statement, which commits to harnessing the capacity of youth and other disproportionately financially excluded groups to drive inclusive growth.

How have AFI members shown policy leadership?

  • Central Bank of Jordan
    Central Bank of Jordan included youth as a specific target group in the National Financial Inclusion Strategy (2018-2020): “15 to 24 year-old in general; 15 to 18 year-olds in particular”

 

  • Central Bank of Samoa
    The NFIS (2017-2020) of the Central Bank of Samoa has as a strategic objective: “Promote economic empowerment and participation of underserved segments, especially women and youth, for inclusive growth”

 

  • Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
    The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe identified the youth target group with special focus in the NFIS (2016-2020) and established a Youth Working group to promote the development of innovative financial products and facilitate capacity building programs for the youth to complement access to financial services.

 

  • Bank of Uganda
    Bank of Uganda included youth above 15 as one of its three priority areas in the NFIS (2017-2020)

 

Kigali Statement

Recognizing the economic significance of youth and the financial barriers they face, AFI members approved the Kigali Statement during the 2019 Global Policy Forum. This Statement acknowledges that youth are currently a disadvantaged group in the formal financial system that rely more heavily on unregulated informal financial services, have less access to economic opportunities and are at greater risk of being trapped in a cycle of intergenerational poverty.

Youth Financial Inclusion Maya Declaration Commitments by AFI members

Several AFI members have made concrete financial inclusion targets on youth. Among them is Bank Negara Malaysia, which completed its commitment to increase the financial capability of young adults (aged 18 to 30). Bank of Sierra Leone and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, meanwhile, both made commitments on collecting disaggregated data, including for youth, while Reserve Bank of Fiji announced aims to increase the number of youth accounts at formal financial institutions to 80 percent in 2020 from 51 percent in 2015.

Previous AFI blogs
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Snapshot of the Youth-related activities within AFI:

 2016201720182019
Standalone Events and/or Sessions000GPF session
Technology is the Key to Youth Financial Inclusion & Delivering Digital and Financial Capabilities for Women and the Youth & High Tech, Low Touch: Accelerating Inclusion through Digital Microfinance
Knowledge Products (aggregate)011TBD
Policy Changes (aggregate)000TBD
Peer Reviews (aggregate)000TBD

 

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SDGs

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