There are few countries in the world as young as Jordan, where the median age is about 24. Such a population could be highly advantageous, or potentially catastrophic, depending on how well millennials are given a fair chance to thrive. Analyzing this situation up close, Cairo Amman Bank (CAB), one of Jordan’s top financial institutions, announced the recent launch a new subsidiary designed to specifically serve youth and women in the hopes of tackling one of the nation’s top economic issues: financial inclusivity.
“Approximately 75% of our population is excluded from the banking sector, most of which are women and youth,” observes Kamal Al-Bakri, CEO at CAB, quoting the most recent World Bank statistics. “This is the nature of our country: 77% of the population is less than 30 years old. Accordingly, last October we opened new branches to offer a hybrid banking experience, combining digital technology and retail banking professionals to attract youth to enter the banking system,” says Al-Bakri.
These hybrid branches, dubbed LINC (which stands for learn, inspire, network, and create), have opened in select university campuses throughout the country. “At the end of the day, youth will not compromise. Things have to be easy; they have to be digital. And you have to integrate. Banking will become not only a bank for them, but also a one-stop shop for someone trying to understand a modernizing economy,” says Al-Bakri.
LINC will also provide a safe-space for young entrepreneurs to wet their feet. “We have partnered with an institution to open incubators, allowing each LINC branch to be a space where entrepreneurs can test ideas. If it’s a really feasible idea, we will send it to the main incubator in Amman to be assessed. The Loan Guarantee Company will assure 85% of the loans for entrepreneurs, and the Central Bank of Jordan also established a venture capital fund to support this cause,” Al-Bakri adds.