Jeroo Billimoria

| Child Finance

Jeroo Billimoria

Jeroo is a winner of the 7th Ogunte Women's Social Leadership Awards | Category Leader in the Workplace / Intermediary 2013

Jeroo’s vision is to see every child become empowered with the knowledge and skills to make informed decisions and become responsible economic citizens. She has dedicated her life to creating the systematic change that will ensure that children and youth have a voice, build their self-confidence, are able to obtain sustainable livelihoods, enhance level of employability, and begin their ascent from poverty.

Jeroo’s current organization, Child and Youth Finance International (CYFI) seeks to do this through building the financial capabilities of all children and youth. As a first step defined in CYFI strategy document, the organization has targeted to reach 100 million children in 100 countries to ensure that they receive financial education and access to appropriate financial services. In the short 19 months of the organization’s existence, the organization is fast approaching this target, having reached 18 million children in 83 countries.

Based on the work you have accomplished so far, what social impact goals have you set and how have you performed so far?

I am the founder of Childline and Childhelpline International. Through an analysis of the 140 million calls received per year by helplines across the world, we were able to see that the main causes of school dropout, abuse, violence and homelessness were linked to unemployment, poor financial management finance and therefore poverty. This insight was the starting point of Aflatoun, another organization founded i founded. Through Aflatoun, over 1.3 million children have learnt to save, plan, and be socially responsible. Aflatoun’s children today save EUR 1,439,561. Building on this, Child and Youth Finance International was established to ensure that the financial empowerment of children and youth is placed high on the agenda of policymakers and that international initiatives work towards building the Economic Citizenship of children.

What obstacles have you faced and how have you overcome them to get where you are now?

Children are rarely associated with financial services. When CYFI was established, potential stakeholders were sceptical about the relevance of the issue. We had to prove that children also deserve economic citizenship. This, coupled with its limited amount of resources, made it very difficult for CYFI.

Yet I was able to gain buy-in from stakeholders on the importance of CYFI’s mission by building on the expertise gained from previous organizations and successfully highlighting the importance of creating a new generation of economically active and responsible citizens. CYFI’s first Annual Summit in April 2012 was a testimony to this: it brought together over 350 senior level representatives from 83 countries who signed up to CYFI’s goals. This was the starting point for building an international Movement that has, to date, garnered the support of the UN, UNICEF, OECD, the G20, governmental authorities and the world’s largest NGOS, among others.

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