Washington University, MasterCard partner on savings study

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St. Louis Business Journal
May 6, 2010

Washington University in St. Louis is among four organizations that will use a $12.5 million grant from the MasterCard Foundation to conduct a five-year study on how to deliver savings services to low-income youth in developing countries.
The MasterCard Foundation said Thursday that it is partnering with the Center for Social Development at Washington University, Save the Children, the New America Foundation, and CGAP (the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor) on the initiative, called YouthSave.

Emerging evidence suggests getting young people to save money may improve their economic, educational and health-related futures, MasterCard Foundation said.

The study will focus on Colombia, Ghana, Kenya and Nepal, which the foundation characterized as four countries with conditions favorable for youth savings. Financial institutions selected in each country will design and deliver savings services to about 170,000 low-income youth age 12 to 18, with consortium members providing technical assistance and participation by local research partners.

"This rigorous study will advance our understanding of how and why youth in developing countries save, and how financial institutions can better serve their needs," said Michael Sherraden, founder and director of the Center for Social Development at Washington U., in a statement. "The findings will increase the quality and accessibility of youth savings, as well as other asset-building strategies in developing countries."

Sherraden recently was named one of the world's 100 most influential people by Time Magazine.

"YouthSave will advance knowledge about how and why youth in developing countries save, and how institutions can sustainably serve their needs," Reeta Roy, president and CEO of the MasterCard Foundation, said in a statement.

One-third of the world's population is under 19, but less than 10 percent have access to financial services, the foundation said.

The consortium will document the impact of savings on young people and the value for financial institutions offering savings products.

The MasterCard Foundation is an independent, private foundation based in Toronto, Canada, with assets totaling $3 billion. It was established through MasterCard Inc. at the time of the company's initial public offering in 2006. Purchase, N.Y.-based MasterCard Inc.'s Global Technology and Operations headquarters is in O'Fallon, Mo.

The Center for Social Development, based at Washington University in St. Louis, conducts research on how individuals, families and communities increase capacity, set and reach goals, and contribute to the economy and society.

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