Rural youth receive inadequate financial and entrepreneurial support to start and grow successful businesses and find meaningful employment. Local financial institutions are often unwilling to develop and deliver products and services for youth clients.
In Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, and Yemen, Making Cents International increased opportunities for employment and self-employment among rural youth. We built the capacity of local institutions to provide inclusive financial and non-financial services for youth and the enterprises that employ them.
Under the Rural Youth Economic Empowerment Program (RYEEP), Making Cents piloted five financial and non-financial service business models. These are research-driven, and follow a systematic approach: from research and design to product launch and evaluation. The pilots included start-up loans, youth savings groups, mobile-phone-based financial tools, and trainings in business management and financial literacy.
In addition to overseeing the collection and dissemination of experiences and data from each country, we developed practical knowledge products and organized events that facilitated the scale-up and replication of successful approaches. By the end of the project, we provided savings or credit services to 20,543 youth, and non-financial supportive services to 14,252 youth.
Specific activities implemented by Making Cents in each country are outlined below:
Egypt: We assisted Plan Egypt’s modifications of its village savings and loan financial model, its adoption of a youth savings group (YSG) model, and implemented our entrepreneurship curriculum for rural youth.
Morocco: We supported Al Barid Bank to adopt a new youth savings product that suits the distinct needs of rural youth.
Tunisia: We helped Microcred, a new greenfield microfinance institution, to design, develop, and roll out loans for rural youth starting up small enterprises. Concurrently, we built the market-research capacity of ProInvest, a pioneer of mobile phone-enabled market solutions, and supported its prototyping, development, and piloting of a mobile application that automates and records the transactions of young, rural shop owners, increases their access to rural finance, and reduces supply chain, inventory, and transaction bottlenecks.
Yemen: We strengthened the capacity of Al Amal Microfinance Bank to develop and implement its Rural Finance Strategy for Youth, including its provision of financial literacy and entrepreneurship training for youth. Additionally, we increased access to savings and credit products through agents and mobile banks.