The 2018 Bi-annual learning meeting of the Youth Forward Initiative was held on 19th April, 2018, in Kumasi at the Royal Lamerta Hotel. The theme for the event was Financial Inclusion and Access to affordable finance for youth. The objective of the meeting was to bring project implementing partners and youth beneficiaries together for a deeper reflection, review and sharing of experience for learning purposes.
In attendance at the meeting were implementing partners from YIEDIE and MASO Consortia; Solidaridad West Africa, Global Communities, Fidelity Bank, HFC Boafo, Ashesi University, Artisans Association Ghana (AAG), Opportunities Industrialization Center Ghana (OICG), Otumfuo Charity Foundation, Aflatoun International, Opportunity International Savings and Loans and youth beneficiaries from YIEDIE and MASO programmes.
Opening, the one-day learning meeting, the Programme Manager of MASO, Mr. Fred Frimpong, emphasized on the importance of cross learning and openness to learning and new perspectives. He further urged participants to have open conversations during the meeting, which will lead to finding practical solutions to the financial challenges faced by young people, particularly the project beneficiaries.
Updates were given by MASO and YIEDIE on consortia program activities, target achievements and progress made so far. MASO also presented their research on access to finance, the study included findings on barriers to finance, financial needs of young people, youth perceptions on credit and savings and financial options available to young people.
The financial inclusion partners; Opportunity International Savings and Loans, Fidelity Bank and HFC Boafo Bank made presentations on how they are facilitating financial inclusion and access to finance on the programme. Discussions at the meeting drew out some key reasons why young people do not have access to credit in the country. Among the strategies presented on creating a linkage between banks and youth for funds included, financial literacy training of youth, supporting youth to create savings culture and history, facilitating group loans for youth within a recognized and credible associations, loan guarantees and subsidized funding.
PDA, the Learning Partner, made a presentation on Alternative Finance Scheme for Youth. The presentation covered case studies from other countries on alternative financial products, which can be adopted to address the challenges of access to finance faced by young people such as collateral requirement, high cost of borrowing and financial illiteracy.
In addition, there was group discussions and presentations on the viability of replicating village savings and loans group for the programme beneficiaries (YIEDIE and MASO youth) as a means to provide access to affordable credit to young people, and the possible challenges that may arise to hinder the success of such venture.
The meeting which served as an avenue for reflection ended with participants reenergized and resourced with new ideas to consider for project implementation.