Publication Date



Given high rates of unemployment among African youth, civic service offers a promising strategy for preparing young people for the labor market. Despite its potential, a lack of service opportunities, incentives, and competing livelihood needs, frequently prevent young people from volunteering. This paper reviews the debate on financial remuneration for volunteering, and describes innovative “hybrid” ways to incentivize and support young volunteers. These approaches offer the potential to build financial assets during service in the form of savings, stipends, and microenterprise credit or education awards. This paper highlights programs in several regions of Africa where similar approaches have been piloted. It proposes a way forward to promote “innovative financial inclusion” and improve access to financial services among young volunteers.

Document Type

Working Paper


Civic Engagement and Service


International Service

Original Citation

Lough, B. J., & Sherraden, M. S. (2012). Civic service and asset building in generating livelihoods among youth in Africa (CSD Working Paper No. 12-28). St. Louis, MO: Washington University, Center for Social Development.


Civic Engagement and Service


volunteer, youth, savings