Sharing lessons from a pilot project of youth-inclusive microfinance in Palestine
This brief discusses the experience of a Palestinian MFI, Ryada, in developing financial services for youth. The brief highlights emerging guidelines that have been confirmed by Ryada's experience and presents new insights for MFIs seeking to work with youth.
Ryada received a grant from the USAID-funded Expanded and Sustained Access to Financial Services Program (ESAF) to launch a pilot start-up business loan. Ryada recognized that the large, unemployed youth population represented an opportunity to achieve its social mission and to reach an underserved market. It worked with Making Cents International to design its pilot. The process took 18 months from decision to pilot. It confirmed the following emerging guidelines:
Involve youth in market research and product design;
Develop products and services that reflect the diversity of youth;
Ensure that youth have safe and supportive spaces;
Link youth to complementary nonfinancial services;
Focus on core competencies by utilizing partnerships;
New lessons that Ryada learnt about youth-inclusive microfinance highlight the importance of getting buy-in, implementing market research, hiring dedicated staff, incentivizing loan officers, and conducting character assessment of clients.