Skills Development and Financial Literacy Pilot Project - 10,000+ Youth

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Rahul Agarwal, Varun Agarwal and Aanya Bhandari, Houston TX

Problem Statement

India has a population of 1.3 billion people with roughly 350+ million people between the age of 15 and 35. Around 31 million people are unemployed as per a report in 2017, and 500,000 are added to this pool every month.  India is home to 17.5% of the world’s population but nearly 76% of its adult population is unaware of basic financial concepts. Furthermore, an estimated 52-75% of Indian women engaged in agriculture are illiterate. Among the many reasons identified, limited awareness and access to adequate and timely credit, loans, savings accounts, remittances, and insurance have played a vital role in creating this imbalance.

Three years ago, India made a commitment to expanding financial access to its poorest people through a scheme, PMJDY — the world’s largest financial inclusion scheme. This program has been tremendously successful in reaching those who have lived on the fringes of the formal economy for decades. In fact, the number of bank accounts in India more than doubled, from just over 120 Million in January 2015 to 300 Million in August 2017. The Government of India later started a nationwide initiative called Digital India, with the goal of having a “cashless” society by urging people to make payments via their mobile phones, e-wallets, and so on.

The issue is, however, that despite the increase in the number of bank accounts, many people are still unaware of how to use such financial vehicles. As a result, the number of bank accounts are dormant due to the absence of financial literacy and inclusion. Additionally, there are increasing incidences of fraud and cheating. Financial illiteracy has a cascading effect on various aspects of life because it affects the quality of life, increases poverty incidence, increases unemployment, prevents low socioeconomic parents from sending their children to school, and affects the overall well-being of people.

What did you do?

These issues remain the same across many developing countries. Hence, a solution developed for one country can be replicated by and large to other countries. After intensive research and visits to villages in India, we launched a pilot project in India based on the SEEDTM Solution Approach
1. Sustain - Outreach to young adults across the country esp. in rural areas
2. Educate - Teach basic financial concepts and their benefits to young adults. Provide livelihood and other relevant skills to young adults
3. Empower – Help them find employment or start their own business, and educate their peers
4. Develop- Bring financial inclusion to more and more families
 
The first step was to develop easy to use, interactive content on financial literacy, such as what is credit, debit, debt, the importance of saving, how to operate a bank account, how to do mobile banking, insurance, basic financial planning, how much to save to reach a financial goal and so on in local languages, in order to enable young adults to understand easily. We developed these contents with the help of the Finance Ministry Portal, the Government of India, local regional bank officers, and NGOs who have qualified and knowledgeable employees working in villages in India.

Now the challenge was how to provide these programs to young adults in chosen locations for the pilot project. We identified and partnered with some of the large NGOs in India such as Magic Bus and Smile Foundation currently engaged in providing skills development and livelihood skills training to various parts of India. These NGOs agreed to add our 3-day financial literacy content to their existing skills development programs. Ultimately, our model is to provide financial literacy programs to young adults so that they can find employment and also help their elderly family members understand the financial concepts. 

Current Pilot Phase
The current pilot phase is being done in partnership with Magic Bus, one of the large NGOs engaged in providing livelihood skills to 250,000+ young adults across India.
Pilot Program Location (India)
 East – Kolkata (West Bengal)
 North – Delhi
 West – Maharashtra (both urban and rural)
 South – Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Telangana
Financial Literacy Training Duration – 3 days

Impact

Pilot Program ( Feb – August 2018)
Number of Participants (18-28 years of age)  - 17,137 (Female 8555,  Male 8582)
Cumulative - Trained 11521  (Female 5761, Male 5760)
Cumulative Job Placement* - 10,844 (Female 5028, Male 5863)
 
The addition of financial literacy program increased employment opportunities by 34%. The young adults who are now earning members (single earning member in most of the cases) of the families are able to teach and convince their elders on the importance of savings. We are in the process of measuring the overall direct and indirect impact of the financial literacy program provided to these young adults. Given the outstanding outcome of the pilot program, we are planning on distributing financial literacy concepts as easy to use games in local languages on a Digital Platform in order to sustain a bigger outreach at fewer expenses.