Lily Lapenna

Ashoka Fellow
United Kingdom,
Fellow Since 2009


This profile was prepared when Lily Lapenna was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2009.
The New Idea
Lily is fostering and educating a generation of young people who will become the enterprising and financially empowered citizens of the future. By working with young people, as young as nine-years-old, she is fundamentally changing the way they relate to finance, financial services, enterprise, and ultimately their attitudes toward achieving a fulfilled life.

At the core of Lily’s approach is the insight that finance can be used not simply to encourage savings and thrift but also as an effective springboard for young people to launch new ventures. A related insight is that by giving young people the real experience of taking on the roles of various actors in the banking system, they sharpen their entrepreneurial skills and understand the entire ecosystem of creating and sustaining ventures.

The centerpiece of MyBnk’s unique dual approach is the MyBnk-in-a-Box program. As a youth-focused and youth-led microfinance scheme, it emulates a real world lender-borrower scenario. Lily recognized that the principles behind microfinance have great power to shape a young person’s future relationship with money and enterprise from the very earliest stages. By working with young people to create deep-seated habits, Lily will change their attitudes toward money in a powerful and holistic way, which will ultimately carry on into their adult lives. Through the banking scheme young people create and manage their own savings and take out small, interest-free loans to start their own ventures. They also assess the loan applications and manage the bank’s finances, learning through experience about concepts such as interest, risk, ethical banking, and responsible lending.

By coupling microfinance inspired financial literacy with entrepreneurship Lily provides a unique learning experience that goes beyond learning about money, but also equips individuals to thrive in a fast-changing and dynamic workplace by learning financial concepts and tools to achieve their goals and unlock their entrepreneurial potential.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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