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Post by Jennifer Denomy, Director of Youth & Financial Services, MEDA Kathmandu, located high in the Himalayas in a bowl-shaped valley in central Nepal, recently provided a dramatic setting for the first of four training sessions on youth financial services provided as part of SEEP’s Reaching Scale in Youth Financial Services Practitioner Learning Program (PLP), which started 2.5 years ago. As a co-facilitator with my PLP partners Densmaa Togokh, senior product manager at XacBank, Mongolia and Oyuna Siisel, CEO of Xac NGO, I was excited to share our training course with staff from YouthSave and others at the interactive one-day session, which was held in conjunction with the YouthSave annual meeting from August 22 to 24. The workshop included about 25 people, representing not only YouthSave’s project staff and partners in Colombia, Kenya, Nepal, and Ghana, but also representatives from The MasterCard Foundation. In a room where everyone had experience and ideas to share on youth financial services (YFS), the session provided an opportunity for in-depth discussion on common topics and set the stage for YouthSave’s third Learning and Exchange event. “Nothing substitutes for hearing from others who have already done what you are trying to do,” said YouthSave Project Director Rani Deshpande. “Judging by the level of active participation in the room, I’d say that hearing about other FIs’ experiences, especially the firsthand experiences of Xac Bank, was very compelling.” The four topics – institutionalizing youth financial services, using financial education to scale up YFS, using marketing to scale up YFS, and how to incorporate YFS into sustainable business models – offered a good mix of operational and process issues, engaging participants at both the conceptual and practical level. For the participants, many of whom last met face-to-face almost a year ago when many partners were piloting their youth savings accounts, the workshop also offered a platform to discuss what’s worked and challenges they have faced in implementation. Later in the week, it was a pleasure to participate as a panelist in a YS annual meeting breakout session on strategies to increase uptake of YFS, and also to make a field visit to a school that has introduced savings activities as part of the YouthSave Nepal project.
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