Microfinance for a New Generation

MyBnk is a social enterprise whose aim is to increase financial literacy and to develop young people’s enterprise skills by giving them a hands-on experience of organising, running and using a real bank with real money. ‘It’s exactly what I’d have wanted when I was at school and that is why I am so excited about working on this project,’ says Elisabetta Lily Lapenna, the Managing Director.

One of its projects, MyBnk-in-a-Box, provides conveniently located MyBnk branches in secondary schools, colleges and youth groups where young people can save and take out loans. Young people can put their ideas into practice by taking out small amounts of interest free money to be used for the growth of new enterprises. MyBnk also offers fun workshops and assemblies on Save Safe, Shop for a Bank, Don’t Let the Bank Shop for You and Ideas4Real.

The concept grew out of Lily’s work in international development, where the key focus was the empowerment and participation of youngsters and other vulnerable groups. In Bangladesh Lily became aware of the positive impact of microfinance on disadvantaged groups. A small loan could unleash mountains of potential and give way to all sorts of entrepreneurial ideas and self-sufficiency.

The key to MyBnk’s success is young people. Lily explains: ‘MyBnk is fresh and innovative because young people have been involved in all the phases of product development, branding and delivery.’ The MyBnk image is inspired by frequent brainstorming sessions with young people. ‘We have a strong advisory panel of entrepreneurs, bankers, educationalists, government workers and many more that inspire and guide us.’

Youth-led learning resources, such as online hot-seats, along with short video interviews of real life entrepreneurs encourage young people to think socially and to believe in their ideas.

Lily would like to see a MyBnk in every school in the UK before launching at an international level. ‘It would be great to see young people managing their money effectively, making enter-prising choices, believing in their ideas and becoming agents for social change.’ It is a vision that MyBnk is well on its way to achieving.

Contact: www.mybnk.org

Students from Bethnal Green
listen to the MyBnk Assembly
Photo: © MyBnk

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