MyBnk is a charity that teaches young people how to manage money and start their own enterprise. The charity was included in the 2012 New Radicals list of people and organisations changing Britain for the better.
Together with teachers, financial experts, and young people the organisation designs and delivers education programmes that bring budgeting, student finance and social enterprise to life for 11-25 year olds in schools and youth organisations.
Since 2007 it has reached over 100,000 young people, won the Poverty Prevention Award from the Centre for Social Justice, received the highest rating of any UK money skills programme for young people by the Money Advice Service and trained organisations in Asia, Africa and Europe to deliver our programmes.
In this interview, Declan Wilkes, Head of Communications at MyBnk, discusses the organisation’s expansion abroad.
What’s the biggest challenge of expanding abroad? Got any advice for other New Radicals thinking of doing the same?
Finding the right partner, without a doubt. We get at least two or three international requests to bring MyBnk programmes to young people every week, but it is not always money that is the barrier to making it happen, rather organisational structures and outlook.
For instance, does the partner share your core values and illustrate a strong enough commitment to the mission? There are inherent risks to social franchising and partnerships - the process itself gives away quality control of your brand and hard won reputation. Keep these ideals close to you.
The charity and social enterprise sector is often rightly criticised for chasing funding over strategy and missions. Ask your team, is this opportunity going to result in something you would be comfortable putting your name to in your home market?
How did you tailor MyBnk’s programme to particular countries?
We split our programme outcomes into skills, knowledge and confidence and it is that second indicator that needs heavy contextualisation. Before formal training we establish the needs of their young people, examine their plans and identify any subject areas they want to expand or contract on.
The process has helped us become an organisation that learns and grows. For example, when training staff from Bank Islam Brunei Darussalam Berhad, we deepened our understanding of Sharia compliment finance, whilst in Uganda we had to create programmes which relied less on PowerPoint presentations and music due to power cuts, which improved our methodology.
Did you create a strong foreign support network?
It was quite important to offer an aftercare package to our foreign partners to ensure quality and to keep the programmes relevant.
We have created a consultation service which helps them reach their goals with their native funders and schools. The service offers a fully functional monitoring and evaluation model to measure and prove their impact. On an educational level, the needs of young people vary widely and change quickly so we offer regular training and courses. These are delivered both remotely and face-to-face alongside updates to activities and digital assets.
There are already several international bodies, like the OECE and the European Federation of Bankers, that have made financial literacy and enterprise proficiency for young people two of their main strategic goals. Being Gold Members of Children and Youth Finance International also gives us access to support, advice and knowledge. Having our Founder and Co-CEO Lily Lapenna as a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader and an Ashoka Fellow also helps!
Which networks or funding bodies did you use in England to help export MyBnk?
On a national level, the JP Morgan Chase Foundation, the Dulverton Trust and the Big Lottery’s Awards for All scheme, have helped fund our wider expansion model.
Despite the appeal and proven replication model there was not a lot of help to export MyBnk. UK Trade & Investment pointed us to the British Council who tend to focus on higher education but as each council is autonomous, there is a fragmented response.
Being a charity first and a social enterprise second means we are reliant on ourselves to leverage contacts, start conversations and do what we advise young people to do – create your own opportunities. Organisations like Global Potential and Welsh Credit Unions have funded training themselves.
What does the future look like?
The next few years will see us focus relentlessly on reaching more young people and making the case to government, the financial services industry and corporates that the time has come to properly fund financial education for young people. The changes that have happened in the UK, while welcomed, are in danger of becoming merely symbolic in terms of impact and reach.
We have a tried and tested model for replication which requires a carefully targeted sales and marketing pitch and more importantly the right sort of partners and backers to make it viable. This may even see us going down a bursary partnership route with funders to boost new projects or expand the existing programmes of established charities.
MyBnk is very much a verb, a doing word, and through our consolation and collaboration work we are finding new ways to bring our education projects to more young people, regardless of location. If you think you can help us with that journey, welcome aboard!
Find out more: Mybnk.org