Blog Post: Researchers hear firsthand about Nepalese savings experience
By Katie Stalter, CSD
YouthSave researchers had a unique opportunity this August. They had the chance to meet project participants, and hear firsthand how their work is making a difference for youth in Nepal.
On the last day of the YouthSave Learning and Exchange Event held in August, conference attendees took a field trip to two Nepalese schools. There, children were participating in a YouthSave financial education workshop and making deposits into their saving accounts. The visitors not only observed the activities, but also participated in a question-and-answer session with the students. Direct interactions with the youth are tremendously valuable to researchers, because they provide a precious opportunity to see youth in action, listen to what they have to say and understand their perspectives.
In talking with the youth, conference attendees learned that students do have money to save, but need a place to save it. That money comes from various sources. Youth sometimes put money into their accounts that they’ve saved from trips to the market for their parents, when they’re allowed to keep any change from the purchase. Others may do odd jobs to acquire the money or receive monetary gifts either for holidays or to spend at upcoming festivals. Often, youth put the money they receive under a mattress or in a box in their room, and the YouthSave bank accounts offer them a safe place to keep their money while also teaching financial responsibility at a young age.
As preliminary research indicates, many students said they are saving for education-related costs, while others are saving for family needs. Some said at the Q&A with conference attendees that they are planning to purchase new clothes and accessories for upcoming festivals. Students who don’t currently have YouthSave accounts told the visitors that watching their classmates save provides motivation for them to save, as well.
At the end of the session, students made deposits into their accounts at their school. At one school, a few students had been trained to take the deposits and record them in a ledger. At the other, staff members from Bank of Kathmandu were present to accept the deposits.
Two of the students who made deposits spoke at a stakeholder meeting during the conference, and were highly expressive in articulating the value and impact of saving for their future. YouthSave aims to do just that – brighten the future of these groups of low-income youth.
“Research suggests that having money and control of that money brings with it other benefits, both tangible and intangible,” said CSD Director of Administration Lissa Johnson. “But the infrastructure has to be in place, to allow as much access as possible.” It can mean improved health and access to further education. In many cases, it just means hope.
The conversations with Nepalese students will resonate with researchers as they look forward to the years ahead, when data will indicate just how large an impact YouthSave is able to make on the youth of Nepal, Ghana, Colombia and Kenya.