Youth Savings Groups: Delivering Integrated Services

Oct 7, 2015 | by The SEEP Network

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Welcome to a new series of webinars focusing on economic strengthening programming designed to reach and engage adolescent youth in economic and financial activity, with a special focus on girls. This 3-part series, organized by SEEP's Children, Youth and Economic Strengthening (CYES) Working Group, will start with a discussion of some of the broader strategies currently being used related to workforce development programming, taking a closer look at lessons learned.

In this second webinar, we discussed with panelists from Plan International how their programs leverage youth savings groups as a platform for the delivery of integrated services. The session will pay particular attention to the challenges, lessons learned, and impacts of such programming on young women. The first part of the webinar provided an overview of Plan's youth-focused savings group programming. Within this context, panelists discussed Plan's experiences with integrated programming (e.g. financial education, entrepreneurship, life skills, etc.), focusing on lessons learned and good practices. Finally, panelists addressed program sustainability and measurement challenges around evaluating youth-focused savings programs. Here we delved into questions such as: what defines a successful youth savings group? What is the appropriate time frame for measurement? And what limitations might traditional program monitoring techniques pose when dealing with youth-focused groups?

This webinar was organized by SEEP's Children, Youth and Economic Strengthening (CYES) Working Group.

The Children, Youth and Economic Strengthening (CYES) network comprises of a global group of professionals dedicated to improving the lives of children through effective economic strengthening programming. CYES provides a space to showcase innovations in practice and learning, fosters partnerships across participating organizations, and enables access to the latest research and findings in this area all with a goal of enhancing the impact investment in children and economic inclusion.


John Schiller

John Schiller is Plan's Global Advisor for Savings Groups, responsible for promoting the methodology throughout Plan's 51 program countries and 20 national organizations. Prior to this role he worked for five years at Plan's West Africa Regional Office overseeing implementation of the region's microfinance strategy, which focused on wide dissemination and scale up of community-based microfinance models aimed primarily at poor rural women and youth. Before this he was Microfinance Coordinator for Plan International from 1995 to 2007. That position ran concurrent with three matching grants from USAID, whose purpose was to build Plan's capacity to do high quality microfinance programming through partnerships with local MFIs and other microfinance promoters. Before coming to Plan, John had a long international development career in rural enterprise development (mostly in West Africa) with Partnership for Productivity, CARE International and the U.S. Peace Corps beginning in 1968. He is fluent in French.

Rachel Lindley

Rachel is Programme Manager at Plan UK for the Banking on Change Programme. Banking on Change is one of the largest programmes working with Youth Savings Groups globally; to date the programme has established 11,300 YSGs with over 120,000 members aged under 25. Rachel has 12 years of experience of charity and programme management, including 9 years specialising in microfinance and, increasingly, microsavings programmes. She is passionate about enabling young people to fulfil their potential and sees youth economic empowerment programmes as a key part of that. Rachel read English Literature at Cambridge University and has a Masters in Development Studies from SOAS. Alongside Banking on Change, she also works for microfinance NGO Five Talents UK and in her free time is treasurer of her local Amnesty Group and a trustee of Maji Mazuri UK and Song in the City.

David Panetta

As Technical Advisor for Microfinance and Youth Economic Empowerment, David Panetta leads Plan Canada's programming in the areas of access to finance, financial education and life skills training. Since 2004, he has supported the development of Savings Group programs in 31 countries with a cumulative outreach of over 725,000 members, with Plan International, VSL Associates, the Aga Khan Foundation, Mercy Corps, Plant with Purpose, IED, and DFID's Chars Livelihoods Programme, in addition to numerous national and local NGOs in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.


Claire Simon

Claire Simon is the facilitator for the CYES Working Group. She specializes in economic development and social protection with a focus on program design, policy, and operational issues as they relate to targeting vulnerable populations (OVC, elderly, people living with a disability, etc.). Other areas of subject matter expertise include food security, value chain analysis, and poverty measurement. Currently Claire works for MarketShare Associates (MSA) as a consultant. Before turning to the field of development assistance, Claire spent eight years working in software development, building client relationship management (CRM) systems for large financial institutions and online retail organizations. Claire holds a PhD in Geography from the University of Colorado, a Master's degree in International Economics and Finance from Brandeis University and a Bachelor's degree in International Studies from Washington University in St. Louis

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