Over two-thirds of registered users of the HaloYako savings product are below the age of 35, making them the product’s keenest adopters. When compared to census data, these numbers are highly disproportionate. HaloYako is a digitally enabled saving service in Tanzania offered by Halotel in partnership with FINCA Microfinance Bank and supported in part by Mercy Corps Agrifin Accelerate, a partner of the Mastercard Foundation. HaloYako allows users to safely and conveniently save money via their mobile phone at no cost.
These six insights from the product pilot have been crucial to HaloYako’s success and are relevant for other providers focused on youth in rural areas.
1. The messenger matters. Youth were hired to promote HaloYako, and these community-level influencers were key to the product's adoption among young people. When youth saw their peers talk about the product, it motivated them to register.
2. Roadshows appeal to youth. The use of entertainment and music to introduce the product appealed to young people. It played an important role in getting their attention and onboarding them onto the digital platform.
3. Agent network distribution and strength is crucial. Agents should be perceived as consistent, positive, high-capacity actors across the brand to earn client trust. To encourage an active customer base, agent commission structures should also be tied to customer usage and not just sign-ups.
4. Targeted marketing gets results. There are benefits to targeting under-represented user groups by age, gender and region. Appreciating the different cultural contexts of these groups will help providers to reduce resistance to product adoption. A simple picture of a young person using the product in an advert is appealing.
5. Timely communications matter. Communications with customers — whether through push-SMS or tele-center calls — should be tied to customers’ routines to maximize impact. Data analytics using internal and external data sets are essential to identifying customer behaviors and strategically timing communications around them as opposed to blasting messages. For example, encouraging farmers to save when they are planning for the next season will lead to better returns than sending them messages when they are spending to establish the crop.
6. Align with the day-to-day financial realities of young women. Only 2 in 10 women use the HaloYako product, showing that young women face unique limitations in their digital savings needs. Limitations in women’s mobility, work and time, as well as opportunities for access and engagement, mark these differences between young women’s and men’s participation in HaloYako. To improve uptake and active use of HaloYako among women, the product should align to women’s savings needs and opportunities where and when they arise. This may be through group support settings, work settings or private settings, per individual preference. The product should be presented as addressing the challenges they face and, most importantly, be presented in their language.
Starting in 2017, Mercy Corps Agrifin Accelerate supported the development and piloting of HaloYako to improve the financial well-being of young people in rural areas. In Tanzania, 70 percent of people living in poverty are located in rural areas, and almost all of them are involved in the farming sector. Further, more than two-thirds of youth in rural areas are employed in the agricultural sector. For these reasons, HaloYako offers a high-value, tailored financial solution that could contribute to enhancing rural youth livelihoods.
We know that financial inclusion varies across regions, gender and age, with 30 percent of youth in Sub-Saharan Africa having no formal deposit or savings accounts and women having markedly less account ownership than men. Youth living in rural areas face greater challenges in access to financial services. At the same time, ownership of digital financial services among young women and men is accelerating rapidly.
The Halotel, FINCA, and Mercy Corps Agrifin team know that onboarding is only step one. Creating ongoing demand — or “active use,” as the mobile phone industry calls it — presents a bigger challenge.
In the next phase of our partnership with HaloYako, Mercy Corps and the Busara Center for Behavioural Economics are working to identify the gap between predicted users and actual users of the HaloPesa mobile money product and the HaloYako savings product. Using data analytics and behavioral segmentation, we are generating data-driven recommendations for Halotel to maximize participation in their HaloPesa and HaloYako products among youth and women.
A lot of work still needs to be done to create an enabling environment for youth and to improve their livelihoods, but these targeted strategies to onboard them and improve their access to financial solutions are an important start.
Collins Marita leads monitoring, evaluation and research for the Mercy Corps Agrifin Accelerate program. This post is part of CGAP's "Financial Services in Youth Education and Employment" blog series.The series explores the challenge of youth financial inclusion from a variety of angles, including the ways young people are using digital financial services, strategies that financial services providers are using to reach more young customers, and the changing role of funders in this space.