February 2017

Making Cents International has launched the Positive Youth Development (PYD) Measurement Toolkit, a first of its kind youth-focused evaluation approach. One of the key deliverables under our YouthPower Learning project, the toolkit provides implementers of youth programming a variety of references, resources, and tools on how to use a positive youth development (PYD) approach for evaluating youth-focused programming. A PYD approach to evaluation will measure whether youth are positively engaged in and benefiting from investments that ultimately empower them to develop in healthy and positive ways so that they can contribute to the development of their communities.

We begin this toolkit with an overview of PYD and explain how a PYD approach fits with youth-focused programming. While the toolkit was developed with the USAID program cycle in mind, it has broad applicability for other programs and donors. We introduce readers, who are primarily implementers of youth programming in low- and middle-income countries, to our PYD Framework that can be used to guide measurement of PYD, starting with program design through the dissemination of and learning from findings.

The main section of the toolkit discusses PYD constructs and illustrative indicators for implementers. We take readers step by step through a series of phases that utilize the PYD Framework (including the illustrative indicators) to demonstrate how youth programs can be optimally designed using a PYD approach, and how program staff can measure PYD-related outcomes in their program to assess the impact on youth.

Finally, this toolkit offers a series of considerations for adapting the indicators and measures to local contexts. Given that the PYD field has mostly been developed and evaluated in high-income countries, it is essential that these measures be appropriately and thoughtfully adapted to low- and middle-income country contexts to effectively evaluate youth programming in various sectors from a PYD perspective.

January 2017

Our President Tim Nourse participated in the webinar on January 11th that discussed whether rural youth financial inclusion was possible or simply still “a bridge too far”. He was joined by experts from USAID, RTI, and FINCA, who engaged in a lively discussion with 136 webinar participants.

Rural youth tend to be the least financially included: their financial inexperience and limited assets exacerbate the basic rural finance challenges of low population density and poor infrastructure.  Nonetheless, rural youth demand financial services to manage their resources, build assets, and invest in livelihoods or education. How should the financial sector react to this situation — try to serve rural youth directly with new products and services, focus on the “near adults” in a rural finance strategy and deepen services over time, or ignore this population until the challenges of rural finance can be overcome?

Paul Nelson, USAID Digital Finance Advisor, said that the Agency sees digital finance as the key strategy for financial inclusion in general, and especially for hard-to-reach rural areas. He emphasized that the potential cost savings of digital finance — reducing transaction costs by as much as 30% — could bring an array of financial services within reach of tech-savvy rural youth populations.

Tim Nourse drew from Making Cents’ experience to confirm the importance of this approach but pointed out other key lessons as well, such as product adaptations for both rural and youth contexts; partnerships with other actors; and capacity building of youth. Most importantly, the best strategy for rural youth financial inclusion could be through adults — as the infrastructure and products that successfully served rural adults could be adapted to target rural youth.

Sarah Mattingly, RTI’s Senior Workforce and Youth Economic Opportunity Specialist, spoke about RTI’s USAID-funded K-YES project in Kenya that builds the skills of rural youth as a pre-requisite for access to even simple financial platforms such as Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLA). While recognizing the potential of technology to reduce costs, she noted the still weak digital infrastructure in rural areas as a particular challenge for expanding digital finance.

Alison Boess, the former Deputy CEO for FINCA Microfinance Bank Nigeria and now Senior New Business Development Officer, described how FINCA had tried to target children and younger youth cohorts (up to age 24) but found it too expensive to sustain. Instead, they opt to use digital platforms to lower costs and serve rural adults and the most economically active (and oldest) youth cohorts.

Panelists agreed that it matters what youth you were serving. Financial inclusion for older and economically active youth is definitely feasible, especially when facilitated by digital platforms.  VSLAs also offer a promising means for helping younger youth cohorts build assets and skills.  Nonetheless, for most rural youth, formal financial services still remain out of reach.

Watch the full webinar recording and view the slides.