In June 2010, 126 experts from 40 countries gathered for the first Child and Youth Finance meeting in the Netherlands to share their insights and expertise in developing the Movement as well as the organization’s Theory of Change. Over the course of June 2010 – July 2011, they came together in dedicated working groups for each of the key strategic areas of the Movement. The CYFI Research Working Group comprised of leading academics in the fields of financial literacy and children’s rights, combined their expertise to develop CYFI’s Theory of Change in the form of a detailed model of economic citizenship.

Model of Economic Citizenship

Building blocks of empowerment and financial capability

The model poses that financial education, social education, livelihoods education and financial inclusion are the building blocks of empowerment and financial capability that underpin economic citizenship for children and youth. Financial education includes instruction and/or materials designed to increase financial knowledge and skills. Social education is the provision of knowledge and skills that change individuals’ understanding and awareness of their rights and the rights of others. It also involves fostering of life skills.

Financial inclusion is access to appropriate, quality, and affordable financial services.

Empowerment is the sense of confidence and efficacy experienced by children and youth through controlling their own lives, claiming their rights, and having empathy toward others. Financial capability has individual and structural components. It combines a person’s ability to act with the opportunity to act. To be financially capable, people must have financial knowledge and skills as well as access to appropriate financial services to enhance social and economic well-being.

While empowerment is portrayed as a separate construct in the CYFI model of economic citizenship, financial capability actually incorporates empowerment at the individual level and access and opportunity at the structural level. Essentially, financial capability occurs when children are personally empowered and simultaneously experience financial inclusion, or real access to appropriate financial products and services along with the opportunity to practice using those service.

CYFI Theory of Change

At the center of the Theory of Change lies the ultimate beneficiary, the individual child. When developing the CYFI Theory of Change, the Research Working Group used as its base the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Convention outlines the child’s right:

  • To survive,
  • To develop to the fullest,
  • To protection from harmful influences, abuse and exploitation, and
  • To participate fully in family, cultural and social life.

States’ parties to the Convention recognize that poverty and unemployment severely restrict, if not completely deny, children and youth these fundamental rights. In order to reach the goal of economic citizenry, the group concluded that a concentrated effort of intertwined development interventions is necessary.

The CYFI Model states that holistic financial, social and livelihoods education when done in concert with financial inclusion can lead to greater capability and empowerment, thus helping children and youth to become thriving economic citizens.


Model of Children and Youth as Economic Citizens

Model of Children and Youth as Economic Citizens