Lily Lapenna is the Founder and CEO of MyBnk. She started her career in international development, focusing on empowerment of young people through non-formal education.
In Bangladesh, she became aware of the positive impact of micro-finance and saving services. Enthused by what she had seen, Lily created the first ever FSA friendly youth led banking scheme, called MyBnk, run by young people for young people, allowing them to save regularly and take out interest free loans to set up enterprising activities.
Through this banking scheme and accompanying workshops, young people build the knowledge, skills and confidence to manage their money effectively and to make enterprising choices throughout their lives. Lily has taken MyBnk from a single pilot project to an organisation reaching 60,000 young people in the space of 6 years. In 2008 Lily was awarded the Young Social Entrepreneur of the Year. In January 2010 she was awarded the Ashoka Fellowship and in 2011 she was made a Young Global Leader with the World Economic Forum.
What impact do you want MyBnk to create in the world?
A financially literate enterprise driven generation.
What have the biggest learning curves been for you as a social leader in the past 3 years?
Since I had my daughter 8 months ago I learnt that I can work less, have more impact and be home for bath time. Every hour spent working is an hour away from my daughter so I make sure I give every hour everything I have. I have learnt to let go of some of the control of running MyBnk and I now enjoy doing a job share with the great Guy Rigden. (see picture of us with our new office graffiti)
What do you secretly rant about?
The way the media talk about this generation. “Oh there are no jobs for you, you’ll never own a home, you can’t afford university etc”. This narrative is demotivating and it shatters peoples confidence. The majority of the young people I work with are full of ideas, of a desire to do, to accomplish to contribute.
What kind of resources do you need at the moment to make your point more widely?
Now that financial education is becoming compulsory within the secondary school curriculum, we have to ensure quality and impact. To do this at scale we need to harness technology which is what we are experimenting with, more on this later.
If you were not working at MyBnk and talking about "Chicken and Chips", what would you love to tackle?
(Check Lily's TedX talk "It's not all about chicken and chips"
Youth unemployment, in fact that is the other part of what we do at MyBnk. We support young people with enterprise education and start up loans to accompany them on an exciting journey into the world of work. Our new 2 week accredited programme is called "Mind Your Own Business" and it rocks!
What do you expect from business angels?
Relevant contacts, input into strategic planning and the understanding that the best return is a blend of social and financial.
What would you like your older self to prepare you for?
- Listen with more intent
- fast two times a week from the age of 20
- laugh at myself more often
- "Never ruin an apology with an excuse.” Benjamin Franklin
Finally, who are the top 3 people who currently inspire you and why?
- Diana Verde Nieto founder of Positive Luxury, creator of 'The Mark of Positive Living' - the world's first global interactive trust mark. She is so giving and is using Positive Luxury to support young people not in education, employment or work into the world of work.
- Mina Al-Oraibi, Assistant Editor-in-Chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Foreign Policy Magazine has named her as one of the top 100 Twitterati in foreign policy. She is full of insight, having a conversation with her about the situation in Syria is enlightening.
- Bejay Mulenga, a teen entrepreneur supported by MyBnk to run his business Supa Tuck. He is an all round inspiring person and teaches me so much.