Feed the Future
This project is part of the U.S. Government's global hunger and food security initiative.

Pathways to Development: Evidence from YouthSave

Oct 09, 2015
institutional sponsor: 
United States Agency for International Development


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


Tricia Williams
Tricia Williams
The MasterCard Foundation
Tricia WilliamsDr.
Tricia Williams 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
Rani Deshpande
Save the Children
Rani DeshpandeRani Deshpande is the Director of the YouthSave project at Save the Chil
Rani Deshpandedren. 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
Ruth Dueck-Mbeba
The MasterCard Foundation
Ruth Dueck-MbebaRuth Dueck-Mbeba is a Senior Program Manager at The MasterCard Found
Ruth Dueck-Mbebaation 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
Lissa Johnson
Center for Social Development
<img src="/sites/default/files/events/images/Lissa_Johnson_BW_100x100px_1.jpg" width="100" height="100" alt="Lissa Johnson" />Lissa Johnson is Director o
f 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.