Financial inclusion is a critical enabler on many aspects such as eradicating poverty, ending hunger, achieving food security and promoting sustainable agriculture, leading to profiting health and well-being. It also enhances achieving gender equality and economic empowerment of women; promoting economic growth and jobs; supporting industry, innovation, and infrastructure. Therefore, urgent transformation of the current financial system with innovative solutions after the pandemic is the ultimate goal of Inspire Youth For Development.
Financial inclusion supports inclusive development. It is a key enabler for many of the Sustainable Development Goals. Notwithstanding progress made to date in advancing financial inclusion, almost half of the world’s young people especially in Africa are financially excluded.
Young people and women living in rural areas are also less likely to be financially included. The financial services providers report that the hardest young people to serve are those living in rural areas, beyond the reach of existing banking infrastructure. Financially excluded youths and women are more likely to be: Belonging to the poorest 40% of their countries or to socio-economic disadvantaged backgrounds; Unemployed or inactive in the labour market; Less well educated; Living in rural areas.
In addition, these youth and women are also those most likely to have limited access to digital tools or mobile and internet connectivity. This has important implications for policy makers, in terms of where efforts to increase financial inclusion of young people and women should be concentrated.
Digitalization and access to digital financial services may offer ways to overcome some of the challenges that impede youth and women from accessing and using financial services, such as physical infrastructure barriers or high costs, by offering convenient, faster, secure and timely transactions and adapting to specific needs through customization. Digital financial services, when provided in a responsible way within a robust infrastructure, may contribute to increased resilience of the financial sector and of individuals in times of crisis. Within the current environment, as governments around the world respond to the health, social and economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the opportunities provided by digital means for individuals and businesses to continue accessing and using financial products and services, are important and relevant. Digitalization and access to responsible digital financial services offer opportunities to overcome some of the challenges that impede youth, women and other underserved groups from accessing and using traditional financial services
Young people’s interaction with digital technologies, from a very young age, is fundamentally different from that of just a generation older. Globally, 71% of young people are online, versus 48% of the overall population while one in three internet users around the world is under the age of 18. Gender also plays a role in digital access, with girls and young women, especially in countries with low connectivity, being less likely to go online compared to boys and young men: all available indicators suggest persistent gender gaps in terms of access and use of technology and digital media in low and middle income countries.
Financial inclusion of young people and women is important. Young people and women use and have access to money. Many young people, and even younger children, interact with money or have experience with money for example by receiving pocket money or earning money through chores or working in the family business. In the right context, access to financial services can be an enabler for young people, contributing to their empowerment and increased wellbeing, according to their needs and life stage. Several studies exploring the effects of access to savings accounts and financial education by children and young people indicate that these affect young people positively across three broad categories, by:
- Instilling positive financial behaviours;
- Enabling asset accumulation and improving opportunities for upward economic mobility
- Fostering an ancillary or halo effect (including positive psychological, behavioural, education and health effects).
- Digital Financial inclusion empowers young people and women to manage their own money and work for their own savings goals.