Impact of Integrated Financial Services for Young People in Mali: A Comprehensive Research Report for the Freedom from Hunger Advancing Integrated Microfinance for Youth Project
Freedom from Hunger collaborated with two Malian non-governmental organizations, CAEB and Le Tonus, and one credit union, Nyèsigiso, to test the effectiveness of the Advancing Integrated Microfinance for Youth (AIM Youth) initiative which combined financial education with youth savings groups (YSG) and group savings accounts (GSA). The results found that participating youth reported higher amounts in total savings, including higher value of livestock; improvements gained by youth in savings, financial attitudes and financial knowledge were sustained despite a coup d’état during the course of the project; and savings goals for both boys and girls evolved over time, moving away from clothing towards more productive goals, such as saving for livestock, emergencies and their trousseaus (for girls). YSG members, who tended to be younger than the GSA members, demonstrated greater improvements in financial knowledge and financial attitude indicators than GSA members; however, the YSG members had more room for improvement. Despite these last two points, age and gender may account for differences in needs and economic activities but they do not necessarily translate into different benefits from the financial services. Not having money to save and migration proved to be the biggest challenges to accessing and using the financial services. The youth highly appreciated the financial education; they thought it was valuable to help them plan for the future, to be less wasteful and to manage their money better. Overall, the youth from both YSG and GSA, as well as their parents, expressed that they are quite satisfied with the savings services and the financial education.