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Pathways to Development: Evidence from YouthSave

In-person signups closed for this KDID Event


City Club of Washington
555 13th Street, NW
Washington Room
Washington, DC 20004
United States




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Tricia Williams
The MasterCard Foundation

Rani Deshpande
Save the Children

October 9, 2015 - 8:30am - 12:30pm
Youth goes to teller to deposit savings. Photo credit: Save the Children.

Can low-income teens build savings – and does it matter for their futures?  Since 2010, YouthSave has been investigating these questions through partnerships with banks and research institutions in Colombia, Ghana, Kenya, and Nepal.  Over the last three years, more than 130,000 young people have opened savings accounts under the project, accumulating almost $1 million. 

On October 9, researchers and practitioners from YouthSave and other practitioners, donors, and policy-making bodies came together to share their insights on youth savings. They discussed what YouthSave learned about how to provide scalable saving mechanisms to low-income youth and what this means for the practice of youth development and financial inclusion. 

The discussion covered new research including the findings of YouthSave’s Savings Demand Assessment – an analysis of demographic and transaction patterns from 70,000 YouthSave accounts – and the results of a longitudinal experimental impact study in Ghana, which is the largest in the youth asset building field to date. The panelists also explored what these findings mean for donors, policy makers, and practitioners in related fields, based on what has been learned and what remains to be understood. 


8:30 - Breakfast 

9:00 - Welcoming Remarks by Ruth Dueck-Mbeba of the MasterCard Foundation and Rani Deshpande of Save the Children

9:30 - 10:45 - Findings from YouthSave: Outcome and Impact

  • Moderator: Tricia Williams (The MasterCard Foundation)
  • Presenters: Lissa Johnson (Center for Social Development), Gina Agnes Chowa (UNC Chapel Hill)

11:00 - 12:15 - Implications for Youth Savings: Pathways Forward

  • Moderator: Rani Deshpande (Save the Children)
  • Panelists: Gerhard Coetzee (CGAP), Kelly Hallman (The Population Council), Janet Gordon (FDIC), Suezan Lee (USAID)

12:15 - 12:30 - Closing Remarks from Frank DeGiovanni of The Ford Foundation

Presenter Bio:

Tricia Williams
The MasterCard Foundation
Tricia WilliamsDr. Tricia Williams leads research, evaluation, and learning for The MasterCard Foundation’s Youth Livelihoods Program. She has several years of experience in evaluation and research, particularly with youth and immigrant advocacy campaigns in Haiti and Miami. She holds several academic degrees, including a Ph.D. in Sociology/Anthropology. She recently co-authored the MasterCard Foundation’s report, “Youth at Work: Building Economic Opportunities for Young People in Africa.”
Rani Deshpande
Save the Children
Rani DeshpandeRani Deshpande is the Director of the YouthSave project at Save the Children. Prior to joining Save the Children, she was a management consultant, assisting nonprofit organizations with strategy and business planning. Her background also includes four years at CGAP, where she conducted research and industry-building activities around microfinance products including savings and money transfers. She has also worked directly with MSMEs in India and West Africa, providing technical assistance on production for export, small business management, and financial literacy. She earned her undergraduate degree from Stanford University and her dual master’s degree in international affairs and business from Columbia University.
Ruth Dueck-Mbeba
The MasterCard Foundation
Ruth Dueck-MbebaRuth Dueck-Mbeba is a Senior Program Manager at The MasterCard Foundation with more than 30 years of experience in public accounting, financial reporting and management. She is also a practitioner, trainer and consultant in the field of microfinance. At the Foundation, she manages a portfolio of financial inclusion projects that focus on scaling access to finance, particularly through alternate delivery channels and youth financial services. She is also active in the youth livelihoods strategy and work of the Foundation. She has lived, worked, and traveled extensively in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and throughout Asia. She is a Certified Public Accountant (Canada) and a member of the Institute of Internal Auditors. She also holds a certificate in Adult Education.
Lissa Johnson
Center for Social Development
Lissa JohnsonLissa Johnson is Director of Administration at the Center for Social Development (CSD) at Washington University in St. Louis. She is responsible for managing the Center’s finances and operations as well as managing research projects in the areas of asset-building and civic service. She led the YouthSave Savings Demand Assessment, collecting and analyzing individual-level account data from financial institutions in Colombia, Ghana, Kenya, and Nepal. She is also part of a team developing a financial capability and asset building (FCAB) curriculum for social workers. Previously, Ms. Johnson studied a school-based children’s savings program, and managed the American Dream Policy Demonstration (ADD) research, the first nationwide study of Individual Development Accounts (matched savings accounts for low income families). As part of the ADD research, Ms. Johnson led the development and commercialization of management information system software (MIS IDA) to provide program administration, account management, and data monitoring for organizations in the U.S. and Uganda implementing IDA programs. In the area of civic service, Ms. Johnson managed a twelve-country cross-sectional research study on youth service in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Gina Chowa
University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill
Gina ChowaGina Chowa is the Director of Global Social Development Innovations and an Associate Professor of Social Work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She also holds faculty positions at Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Johannesburg. Currently, she is leading a study in Zambia investigating the impacts of asset ownership on adherence to drugs and future orientation of people living with HIV/AIDS. She is also the Principal Investigator of “Siyakha,” a youth savings impact study on youth employment out of South Africa, and the Principal Investigator of a savings impact study on community sanitation use of urban slum dwellers in India. Dr. Chowa was Co-Principal Investigator of the YouthSave Project, investigating impacts of youth savings in Ghana, Kenya, Columbia, and Nepal. Dr. Chowa earned her Ph.D. and M.S.W. degrees at the George Warren Brown School of Social Work and completed her undergraduate work at the University of Zambia. She has won numerous awards for her scholarship and teaching, and her work has been published in many peer-reviewed journals.
Gerhard Coetzee
Gerhard CoetzeeGerhard Coetzee is a Senior Specialist at CGAP and an Extraordinary Professor at the University of Stellenbosch Business School in South Africa. At CGAP he leads the “Customers at the Centre” initiative that guides financial service providers to customer-centric business models that will advance financial inclusion. Previously, he was the Head of Inclusive Banking at Absa Bank (majority owned by Barclays PLC), Founder and Director of the Centre for Inclusive Banking in Africa, and Extraordinary Professor in Agricultural Economics at the University of Pretoria. He has also worked at an international development economics consulting firm (DAI), the Development Bank of Southern Africa, and the South African Department of Agriculture. At Absa he led the team that designed, built, and delivered financial products and services for the unbanked and under-banked poor in South Africa. He is published widely and has worked in more than 30 countries, predominantly in Africa. He has been the recipient of nominations and awards for innovation and community service. He holds a Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics from the University of Pretoria, South Africa.
Kelly Hallman
The Population Council
Kelly HallmanKelly Hallman is a Senior Associate at The Population Council. Her research uses mixed-method approaches to investigate how policies and programs can increase the education, livelihood, and sexual and reproductive health choices of marginalized groups, especially girls. She has authored a number of policy and peer-reviewed publications, including “The Shrinking World of Girls at Puberty: Violence and Gender-Divergent Access to the Public Sphere among Adolescents in South Africa,” in Global Public Health and “Social Exclusion: The Gendering of Adolescent HIV Risks in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa” in the SSRC /UNESCO volume The Fourth Wave: An Assault on Women - Gender, Culture and HIV in the 21st Century. She is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. She received her Ph.D. in Economics from Michigan State University.
Frank DeGiovanni
The Ford Foundation
Frank DeGiovanniFrank DeGiovanni is senior advisor to the Ford Foundation’s president, Darren Walker, and works closely with the executive leadership team on the design of the foundation’s new office of strategy and learning. Previously, he served as director of Financial Assets, leading Ford’s worldwide efforts to build financial assets for disadvantaged people with support through grants and program-related investments (PRIs). Prior to that, he was deputy director of PRIs, responsible for creating and monitoring a diverse loan portfolio of organizations promoting community and economic development. Before joining the Ford Foundation in 1992, he was an associate professor and senior research associate at the New School for Social Research in New York City. From 1985 to 1987, he was chairman of the Pratt Institute’s Department of City and Regional Planning in Brooklyn. He holds a Ph.D. and a master's degree in regional planning, both from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Suezan Lee
Suezan Lee has worked on Youth, Workforce Development, Education Finance and Policy issues in developing countries for the past 10+ years at USAID. Her current work is on soft skills, employability measurements, public-private partnerships, scale and sustainability of USAID's education programs, innovative financing and cost effectiveness as related to the Education Strategy goals. Her interests lie in the intersection of youth workforce development and innovative financing. Ms. Lee has served as a technical specialist in Education Finance and in management as the Deputy Basic Education Team Lead with the Office of Education in the Economic Growth, Education and Environment Bureau at USAID. She served as the chairperson of the 2009-2011 USAID Education Strategy Committee. Previously, she has worked in the Office of Development Credit and was instrumental in the largest bond issuance for Georgia. She has also worked at the International Finance Corporation in the education team and with the New York Regional Association of Grantmakers. Ms. Lee holds a Doctorate in International Education from Boston University and a Master in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance from American University.
Janet R. Gordon (FDIC)
Janet R. Gordon is Associate Director for Community Affairs at the FDIC in the Division of Depositor and Consumer Protection (DCP). She provides oversight for the regional Community Affairs Program and works with other regulators, federal partners, State, local and national organizations to encourage economic inclusion and community development partnerships between banks and government, nonprofit and other private organizations. The FDIC Community Affairs team also manages the development and distribution of the Money Smart financial education curricula for young people, adults, older adults and small business owners. Janet also has served as a Senior Policy Analyst at the FDIC, a community development program manager at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, a bank compliance manager, and a bank advisor in a major consulting firm. She graduated from The University of Michigan and holds an MBA in finance from George Washington University.
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