Tap and Reposition Youth (TRY): Providing Social Support Savings and Microcredit Opportunities for Young Women in Areas with High HIV Prevalence

Published: March 2006

This document describes providing social support savings and microcredit opportunities for young women in areas with high HIV prevelence. Tap and Reposition Youth (TRY) was a multiphase microfinance initiative which aimed to reduce adolescents' vulnerabilities to adverse social and reproductive health outcomes, including HIV infection, by improving their livelihoods options. The project was launched in low-income and slum areas of Nairobi, Kenya, where rates of HIV infection are high and where young women are disproportionately affected. TRY targeted out-of-school adolescent girls and young women aged 16-22. Through continual review and modification, the TRY microfinance model evolved from a limited savings and credit model, to one that expanded upon social support, such as friendship and mentorship.

Key Findings

  • In Phase 3, Young Savers Clubs offer girls an integrated livelihood and social support experience without the pressure associated with loans and repayment. When the voluntary savings option was also offered to TRY clients, nearly all joined Young Savers in addition to their regular TRY
  • membership, demonstrating the importance of and demand for safe, accessible savings for girls and young women.
  • Phase 4 showed that for the majority of young women, entrepreneurship and repeated borrowing were not primary concerns. Rather, their fundamental needs related to acquiring social capital, including social support groups, friendships, mentorships, physical safety, and the opportunity to save their money in a safe, accessible place. When these needs are met, entrepreneurship and use of credit opportunities may follow.
  • Girls' participation in this first phase was very active, and repayment rates were high. Eventually, however, repayment rates dropped, the groups dissolved, and girls started to drop out of the program. The initial model placed heavy emphasis on the provision of credit as the driving force of Tap and Reposition Youth (TRY), with little recognition of the girls' vulnerabilities, their need for social support, and the importance of their having safe and accessible savings as a cushion against emergencies.
  • In Phase 2, girls continued to drop out of TRY, largely because they were concerned for the security of their savings, especially when comembers defaulted on loans, or because they needed to access their accumulated savings quickly in times of emergency, savings that were locked up as group collateral. Moreover, although most girls valued the group meetings and friendships they gained, they were not interested in the continuous lending that the program emphasized.

Populations Adolescent Girls, Urban, Women

Complementary Outcomes HIV/AIDS, Sexual And Reproductive Health

Publishers Population Council

Geographic Focus Africa (Eastern) / Kenya

Funded by Effie Westervelt, Ford Foundation, Kaufman Family Foundation, Turner Foundation, Inc., United Kingdom Department for International Development