An innovative fintech project in Togo aims to protect street children who work and make money, but don’t have access to banking or similar financial services. It launched this week with the first 30 participants, on the way to a target of 150 youth made safer and more money-smart by participating.
“One of the greatest fears of children living and working on the streets is being robbed, particularly at night,” said the pan-African Ecobank, headquartered in Lomé. “Currently, these children use a variety of informal savings mechanisms – leaving their earnings with trusted adults, burying their money, or trying to spend it as quickly as possible. Yet none of these mechanisms are safe or reliable.”
So Ecobank teamed up with children’s rights NGO Terre des Hommes to deliver a solution through the Safe Savings (SaVa) Project, a one-year pilot that relies on mobile technology using Ecobank digital services especially adapted and simplified for people under 18 and living and working on the streets.
“Children in the streets are often subject to abuse, neglect, exploitation, and need our protection,” says Ecobank’s Group CEO Ade Ayeyemi. “By offering them a reliable and secure saving mechanism we hope we can help them protect their livelihoods and build a better future.”
Terre des Hommes, acting on custodial behalf of the minors, will create a “purse” for each child to deposit daily earnings by mobile phone provided by the project. The money goes in an Ecobank account.
“We work closely with the children to understand the issues they face in their daily environments,” said Pierre Philippe, programs and technical resources director for Terre des Hommes. ” We expect the SaVa Project will evolve over the next months to ensure we can genuinely improve the lives of children in the streets of Lomé.”