Since 2013, SNV is implementing its Opportunities for Youth Employment model in an increasing number of countries in Sub Saharan Africa. The model is market based and operates in the Agriculture, Renewable energy and Green jobs sectors. Interventions start with the identification of concrete opportunities for (self-) employment for which young women and men are invited to express their ambitions. This entails that opportunity identification should take into account attractiveness and accessibility for young women and men, whereby gaps/obstacles such as lack of employability skills and missing market linkages are tackled by the OYE projects.
The OYE projects in the various countries have demonstrated the pivotal importance of contributing to (socio-) economic empowerment of young women and young men. This entails that we go way further than creating “jobs” – which actually should result from effective interactions between young people and markets (not from artificial NGO project-contributions, as the development sector has seen for too many decades). This means that we need to place high importance to learning from experiences, from what works and what does not work, especially looking at enhanced empowerment, initiative, opportunity grabbing, leadership and resilience among the young women and men that our projects engage with.
In the SNV led Opportunities for Youth Employment projects, the inclusion of young women and young men requires specific attention. In the first place, we have set ambitious quantitative targets (50-50 balance). Second, we have realized that it also requires qualitative measures in order to tackle specific challenges and meet ambitions of young women and young men.
In rural areas, young people face additional and distinct challenges, such as limited options for economic activities and pressure to migrate. Access to rural financial services (RFS) is one tool that can reduce poverty by helping poor people acquire assets, manage risk and invest in businesses. For young people in rural areas, access to RFS can help them grow savings and become productive in farm and non-farm activities. Young people need and want financial services that can help them face the financial pressures that evolve and increase as they grow up. With rural areas often lacking a variety of economic and employment opportunities that are attractive, there is a strong motivation for young people to start their own business or migrate to urban centres. Offering appropriate financial products to young people in rural areas to help them meet their growing needs is thus crucial for the development and economic growth of rural communities.
Savings groups – as a less formal way of providing rural financial services – are a tried and tested way of enabling millions of people in the developing world to save, access loans and set up small businesses: by August 2015, there were almost 12 million active savings group members in 73 countries, primarily women, and mostly in sub-Saharan Africa. But traditional savings groups have struggled to attract young people. A survey in 2013 found that of 103 organisations that promote savings groups in 43 countries, only 22 per cent include youth- or child-focused groups, while just 38 per cent report young people’s participation in mainstream groups. The rationale behind youth savings is that savings can lead to asset-building for young people. This savings-first approach builds young people’s capacity and confidence in using formal financial services and serves as a basis for building assets for the future while at the same time helping the youth to establish a financial track record, which could eventually help them access other financial products such as loans in the future.
While there is always a temptation of using the long established VSLA approach in promoting youth savings and lending schemes (YSLs), uprooting the approach lock stock and barrel may be a recipe for failure. Young people are a peculiar group, with different dynamics to older people. For instance, young people’s engagement with savings groups is deeply embedded in a network of family and social relations. A lot of youth are not yet financially independent and as such rely on other parties mostly parents give them money and/or loans. This, coupled with limited employment opportunities and the mobility of youth makes them a very special group on which a one size fits all VSLA approach may not exactly work. The uniqueness of youth and the desire to develop successful and sustainable youth savings and lending schemes brings up the critical questions that this research seeks answer.
The main objective of the study is to conduct an investigation into the feasibility, value and sustainability of establishing and using youth savings and lending schemes as a tool towards improving youth access to inclusive financial services. In doing this, the secondary objectives of the action research will be to:
- Collect and analyse data on an ongoing basis to inform decision making, ongoing re-engineering of the OYE project and in particular the YSL initiative;
- Document lessons learned, good practices, and make recommendations for improvements of YSL approach considering contextual factors in Zimbabwe;
- Analyse in particular young women/girls issues relating to the YSLAs categorising the analysis by age group and sex; and
- Provide input on the first phase of implementation of the YSL model before up-scaling, identifying its impact, key strengths, challenges and lessons learned.
The specific questions that the research seeks to answer are:
- What are the specific issues or activities that can attract and maintain youth interest in Youth Savings and Lending (YSL) schemes?
- What are the issues that can either attract or dissuade girls/young women from meaningfully participating in YSLAs – not just as savers but also taking up leadership positions within those groups?
- What are the kind of economic activities that can effectively and sustainably support a vibrant YSL scheme?
- Do YSL schemes improve youths’ access to formal and inclusive financial services? If so in what way?
- What are the major challenges confronting the introduction and sustenance of YSL schemes in Zimbabwe?
- What are the major adaptations and adoptions from the VSL methodology that can be used to effectively transform it to offer credit, micro insurance as well as savings services to Youth Savings and Lending (YSL) schemes?
Scope of work
Given the objectives of the action research, the research is expected to be an iterative learning process that will accompany and be delivered within the first-phase of OYE implementation in Zimbabwe. The action research will involve collection and analysis of qualitative and quantitative data from existing YSL groups at district and national levels. To complete the action cycle the research findings will have to be implemented, reviewed and refined before final best practices are adopted.
Inception report (including summary of research methodology): Describing the consultant(s) understanding of the ToR, detailing the action research methodology, research tools, work plan, list of possible stakeholders to be consulted.
Action research plan: Complimentary to the work plan embedded within the inception report, the action research plan will breakdown in detail the data and indicators to be measured, action research participants, and a comprehensive schedule of research activities to be undertaken and deliverables.
Regular progress reports: Regular update reports on progress of the action research, including latest key findings and emerging challenges.
Stakeholders’ Learning workshop: Facilitated by SNV to present key findings from the action research, document comments and inputs for consideration and incorporation into the final report.
Final report: A document compiling all the research findings and summative data analysis to inform the feasibility of scaling up in all the districts of operation. The report will include a synoptic analysis for each of the sampled areas where possible.
The Application Process
The envisaged action research will be done by/in partnership with a national/local academic/research expert (be it one or a few individuals) or staff from a renowned academic institution with proven expertise in youth and financial services related research.
The candidate expert is expected to submit the following an Expression of Interest with the following:
- An executive summary of the research methodology – demonstrating the expertise and experience of the candidate. The methodology is expected to include ways of engaging young women and men in a way that their voices are clear and amplified. The methodology is also expected to include getting the views and practices of relevant (local) cultural and political authorities, such as female and male family elders, local government authorities and religious leaders (M/F). The eventual action research methodology will be a joint endeavour by the selected expert/institute and SNV.
- Work plan
- Proposed budget
- A first degree in Economics, Business Management, Banking and Finance or any related but relevant degree.
- At least five years’ experience in research in the access to finance field – prior work with youth and savings and lending schemes will be an added advantage.
- Masters degree in Business Management, Agribusiness or Agricultural Economics and experience in financial services will be an added advantage.
Duration of contract: This assignment is expected to begin once the current ban on fieldwork, necessitated by Covid-19 pandemic has been lifted.
How to apply
Please apply by clicking on the “Apply Now” tab on this page and submitting an Expression of Interest which will include CV and past performance referees in English before 15 August, 2020.
NB:Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.
SNV does not require you to undergo any medical test prior to employment