Today is International Youth Day, a day to recognize and celebrate the potential of youth as partners in today's global society. We’re celebrating by sharing a few stories about how our dedicated Skillanthropists used their time and skills to strengthen organizations committed to giving children and youth the tools, support, and opportunities they need to help break the cycle of poverty!
Improving Financial Inclusion for Children
Children and youth represent one-third of the world’s population, and in some countries, especially emerging markets, they can constitute almost half of the population. With limited access to formal-sector financial services, children can be particularly vulnerable to economic shocks and to resorting to informal money lenders or potentially abusive and exploitive situations to bridge the financial crisis. What little products that do exist for children are not always designed to address their unique needs and challenges.
Child & Youth Finance International (CYFI), a non-profit that works towards financial inclusion for young people by ensuring they have financial education and a savings account they own and operate, aims to change this by advocating a new approach that encourages financial institutions to consider children’s rights when developing financial products and services targeted towards youth.
Last year, we connected Jennifer Rademaker, Core Products lead for the MasterCard Europe region and multi-time BwB volunteer, with CYFI. With more than 20 years of global experience in financial services and as the author of a comic book series published in South Africa that educates children on good financial habits and life skills, Jennifer brought a unique skill set and insight to her project with CYFI.
In collaboration with UNICEF and with support from another MasterCard employee volunteer, Anna Zanghi, Jennifer helped CYFI develop the discussion paper “Beyond the Promotional Piggybank: Towards Children as Stakeholders,” encouraging financial institutions to consider children’s rights when developing financial services targeted towards youth and outlining a framework and a five-step process to help mainstream financial institutions develop inclusive, safe and responsible products for children and youth.
The paper received positive feedback at the Second Annual Child and Youth Finance International Summit held in May 2013 in Istanbul, where Jennifer and Anna shared CYFI’s recommendations with senior level representatives from a variety of financial and youth-focused organizations. Though the battle is far from over, by increasing awareness and facilitating discussion on the importance of child-friendly services, CYFI and the volunteers hope to ignite change in the industry.