Children and youth make up 42% of the world population. 71 million young people are currently unemployed, and more than 152 million, primarily in emerging and developing countries, live in poverty. High levels of unemployment, combined with inadequate education and practical skills training, make it difficult for many young people to secure a sustainable livelihood. In terms of financial inclusion, the number of young adults (aged 15-24) with a bank account at a formal institution increased from 37% in 2011 to 46% in 2015, yet more than half of the global youth population remains excluded from the formal financial system. Only 18% actively save at a formal financial institution.
To achieve the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, harnessing the dynamism and entrepreneurial spirit of youth will be key. The evidence base on the impacts of financial inclusion and education for children and youth continues to grow. With access to a safe place to save at an early age, young people can build an asset base which can protect them against economic shocks, fund their education, help them start a business and secure a sustainable livelihood for their future. Today's children and youth represent the future client base for financial institutions and the next generation of economic drivers for national governments. While many financial institutions offer products to young clients, many barriers exist such as regulatory restrictions, know your client (KYC) requirements, low levels of financial literacy and lack of infrastructure to reach young clients.
Governments can help overcome these barriers by creating policies that allow financial service providers to attract young people into the formal financial system. Donors and investors can help by encouraging and supporting the development of sustainable business models for youth financial services. More research is also needed to provide reliable information that can spur the development of products and services tailored to this market. Advocacy, knowledge sharing, technical assistance, and monitoring and evaluation will remain central to the advancement of safe, appropriate and quality financial services for young people around the world.
Child and Youth Finance International (CYFI) works to provide children and youth around the world with access to financial services, enhance their awareness of economic rights, and empower them to build their assets, invest in their future, and ultimately break the cycle of poverty.