Banking on Kids to Build the Economic Citizens of the Future

The Problem

Ninety percent of young people worldwide lack access to basic financial services. Only one country mandates financial education as part of its formal curriculum, and none have special regulations in place for savings products specifically catering to children. Indeed, in most countries the minimum age for youth to assume full control over their own accounts is 18 years old.

Yet, financial inclusion and access for children is critical in developing financial literacy and building positive financial behaviour over time. That is, the knowledge and practices that decrease vulnerability and protect against exploitation - breaking cycles of poverty - whilst also serving as a component in building good economic citizens who are financially capable and have the skills to help themselves and their communities.

 The idea

Child & Youth Finance International is a global movement of international stakeholders dedicated to increasing the financial empowerment and security of children and youth through increased financial education and financial inclusion. 

The organization aims to create and strengthen systems, structures and policies that will provide children with choices, inform them of their rights, instill in them values, foster sound financial decision-making; and empower them to build their assets and invest in their own futures. Child & Youth Finance International stresses the importance of early financial education of a high standard, combined with social and life skills education. 

This education should be supported by a financial system that promotes access to safe and appropriate financial products and services for children and youth. 

On the basis of a collaborative process of consultation with experts and network members across various sectors and states, Child & Youth Finance International is pursuing the following goals and activities (working with 100 different countries globally): ensuring that 100 million children and youth have access to appropriate financial products by 2015; ensuring that 100 million children and youth have access to appropriate child and youth education by 2015; ensuring that 100 countries have an action plan for child and youth finance and celebrate the Child and Youth Finance day/week; ensuring that children and youth’s economic rights and economic citizenship are placed on relevant global agendas.

Potential Impact

Beyond the headline figure of ensuring 100 million children and youth in 100 countries receive a savings account by the time they finish primary school - supported by a holistic financial education program - Child & Youth Finance International is employing a collaborative multi-stakeholder approach that is already reaching out to 18 million additional children simply by aligning the efforts of existing partners. It is expected that this approach will ultimately build a global consensus on child friendly banking services and financial education.

The organization’s theory of change is based on the idea that financial education and financial inclusion will interact with broader social education to boost economic citizenship and ultimately reduce poverty, ensure sustainable economic and social well-being, protect livelihoods, and strengthen economic and other rights. Child & Youth Finance International aims to transition to a membership and certification fee structure by 2015 that will make the network self-sustaining.

Social Value

The core principles of the child and youth finance movement are focused firmly on increasing the financial protection and empowerment of all children and youth across the world. The movement works to ensure that the human rights, and in particular the economic rights, of children and youth are respected at all times. It builds upon the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

To that end, the movement has a clear social aim in encouraging the creation of systems in which the interest of children and youth are pushed to the forefront, in which children and youth are recognized as important stakeholders whose financial safety must be secured, and in which their risks of financial exploitation are minimized.

Children and youth are the future economic actors whose financial decisions will dictate the state of world economies. Based on experience and research, experts within the movement have stressed that promoting a positive financial culture in children and youth is essential to ensuring a financially capable population, able to make well-informed decisions. Positive effects of such interventions also include improved economic and financial well-being through higher levels of savings, income and assets among children, improved health and mental health, academic achievement and expectation for the future.


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