FiLi, a financial literacy program for youth in Latin America.

FiLi aims to help young people acquire basic financial knowledge and soft skills to improve financial inclusion and increase resiliency

Photo of Magdaly Santillanez
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  • Yes, I fulfill all of the eligibility criteria.

Initiative's representative name

Magdaly Santillanez

Initiative's representative date of birth


Initiative’s representative gender

  • Woman

Which eligible market are you based in?

  • Mexico

Where are you making a difference?

Mexico, Panamá, Colombia, Ecuador and Argentina.

Website or social media url(s)

Instagram: LinkedIn:

When was your organisation founded?

Early July, 2019.

Focus areas

  • Financial skills and capability
  • Reskilling and upskilling the workforce
  • Creating digital tools

Project Stage

  • Pilot (have done first proof of concept)

Yearly Budget: How much capital do you need to accomplish your proposed project?

  • $5,000-$1,0000

Organisation Type

  • Social Enterprise

1. Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that led the founder(s) to get started or the story of how you saw the potential for this to succeed

Most of the time, when you talk to a peer about finance, words as financial markets, interest rates, taxes payments or even loans are still a magical mistery land. We do not understand how credit cards work and some of us, rely on a financial advisor opinion for investing our savings but we have not enough information to know if that is the best decision to make. That's why, we began FiLi and become a first place winner project at Shaping Horizons 2019, the first international summit and action programme on science, politics and innovation for a changing world, which brought together 150 young leaders from across the United Kingdom and Latin America to Cambridge University, for committing to the top world leaders and ignite change.

2. The problem: What problem surrounding employability or financial capability are you helping to solve?

Latin America holds a promising richness: youth. A quarter of its 163 million people are aged between 15 and 20. As the Global Talent Competitiveness Index reveals, the region betrays two consistent weaknesses: informal work and a lack of vocational and technical skills, amid a high overall skills shortage. Also, 86% of Latin American youth is employed. However, only 37% have formal bank accounts and 89% of them have no savings.

3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.

We are developing a Financial Literacy Programme for Latin American youth. As a means of implementation we intend to not only provide workshops in our target countries but also leverage technological tools to provide our content through e-learning and reach the whole Latin American region. For this, FiLi aims to use educational methods in a creative and collaborative way with the community, developing free, attractive and easy-to-learn content that will be accessible through any tool with internet access. Additionally, we plan to develop content with country-specific information about the financial system and its specific influence on the personal finances of youth. Our solution will have content for young people from all walks of life, young university students that have no idea on how to manage their finances, young adults in need to understand how credit works, young professionals wanting to know which could be good financial decisions moving forward in the working environment, and even young entrepreneurs wanting to invest but lack necessary knowledge for money loans.

4. How are you innovating or using unique approaches to solving the problem?

Young people use intensively social media in their daily routine and they are extremely comfortable with the Internet and mobile devices. A solution is to be in touch with them, to know the youth personally, to help them transition into the financial and social participation world and to support them in their capacity- building activities. There are already many english resources for theoretical and general financial knowledge. However, there is a gap in the market for explaining how interest rates works, which kind of loans can they have access to, how can they avoid scams or even improve money management.

6. Financial capability: how is your organization or project creating innovative solutions that arm people with ability to optimize their current and future financial health

Financial education is the first base in order to develop a financial empowered society who really understands its needs and then, decide by their own what is the better financial services to have. We are tackling the problem of Financial Literacy from the bottom to the top, beginning at personal finances education and progressing to current financial dynamics and also at the moment in Latin America country-specific financial systems dynamics. Our long-term goal is to change the economic resiliency of young people and thereby change the circumstances to which they enter to their societies workforce. The use of digital platforms is the key to our innovative approach, and the interaction between different countries givin hope that in 5 years our programme reaches not only public and private education institutions but also young people that have not entered to higher education institutions.

6a. Please describe what aspect of financial capability your organization is focused on fostering and how you have measured / plan to measure progress.

In the short term we will have outputs such as learning material and classes held which we expect in the medium time to produce outcomes in the target groups such as financial skills development and change in economic behavior. The latter connects with our long-term goal of changing the economic resiliency of young people. Progress is measured by qualitative characteristics such as completion rate, net promoter score, sustomer satisfaction index, familiarity with material and homework speed. Also, quantitative such as number of participants, number of new users and academic performance.

7. Marketplace: Who else is addressing the same problem? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

There are several financial literacy initiatives such as and 360financial, as well as courses in platforms such as edx. However, these are in English and their content is not developed for our target user which are young people. In Latin America there are a few, such as Capitalys. Many of the services provided by these initiatives need to be paid for and don´t have young people as their target users, meaning that their content is not very attractive for them. In FiLi we aspire to develop open-source alternative with a practical rather than theoretical approach.

8. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?

We are developing the pilot program, as well as, applying for grants in order to have more sources for the design of the program. For the next quarter, we are planning to develop on site pilot program in: Mexico, Panama, Ecuador, Colombia and Argentina. To reach over 500 young people. To evaluate their academic performance prior and afterthe course, completion rate and any other feedback from participants.

9. Financial Sustainability Plan. Can you tell us about you plan to fund your project and how that plan will be sustainable in the short, medium, and long term?

FiLi won the first prize in Shaping Horizon summit in 2019 in Cambridge University. For the short term, with this grant, we are starting the pilot and will start developing content for the platform. For the medium term, we expect to establish ourselves as a Social Enterprise and apply for grants to develop a robust online platform and a maintenance plan. Finally, for the long term as a social enterprise, FiLi will aim to secure long term partnering with different financial education programs, both online and on-site provided to universities, organisations and enterprises. Also, we expect to build alliances with banks and fintech institutions all around LATAM in order to teach people financial literacy and increase financial inclusion.

10. Team

The team is composed by young leaders from Mexico, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Argentina and Egypt. Most of us are Global Shapers and come from different backgrounds such as economics, finance, industrial engineering, science and entrepreneurship. Nowadays, we are following Scrum Methodology and each of us as a role accordingly. We are planning to evolve to a startup structure in the coming future.

Help Us Support Diversity! Are you a member of an under-served , under-represented, or marginalized group in your country of residence? (yes/no) (this question is optional – if you choose to fill it out, the response will not be shared with your fellow contestants)

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Other

If you selected “yes” to any of the categories above, please explain how being a member of this group has impacted you and your work?

There is a competitive environment where there is no margin of error available. Even if you want to help diminish different social challenges, creating a good initiative and making it successful takes time and personal effort. In a world were trying to ignite change implies to double efforts if you are a woman or has any disability kind. However, courage, passion and team work are key strengths for overcoming such obstacles.

How did you hear about this challenge?

  • Recommended by others

11. Bring it to life: Please walk us through a concrete example of how your solution will solve the problem you’re trying to address

This platform is for youth between 17-25 years old.For the girl or guy who enters social media and laughs about a financial related joke and at the same time realices that he does not know so much about the subject. Despite, his life could improve if he could learn to manage his credit card payments better or identify if the financial adviser is explaining right the pension or saving retirment plan. FiLi, is also for the girl who wants to know more about different alternatives for investing money instead of having it in the bank or even learn to track her expenses and income activities... the person who wants to learn more but has not enough time or even not enough money to pay a course. The guy who wants to ask for a loan and wishes that this process could be as easy as opening a social media account. That's why, FiLi uses educational methods in a collaborative way with the community

12. Skills Matching: HSBC Employees will have the opportunity to offer skilled-volunteering. If matched, which of the following skills would you be most interested in receiving?

  • Accounting & Finance
  • Planning & Strategy
  • Project Management
  • Program Design
  • Board Development
  • Staff Development
  • Marketing Strategy, Design
  • Brand Development
  • Web/Mobile Development

13. Financial Sustainability – funding breakdown: please list a quick breakdown of your funding, indicating an estimated percentage that comes from each source.

At this early stage,  NGO grants  are our 100% source for funding. After solving the first little sliver, we are going to scale up to a social enterprise in order to achieve sustainability and change to earned income as our main source (up to 90%). Also, we will receive additional contributions from NGO's, donations or corporate contributions (~10%).  

14. Financial Sustainability – please tell us more about how you plan to fund and scale your project over the next 12 months.

For 2020 we plan to keep applying for more grants in order to access to resources for: first; developing content for the different modules that will be part of FILI’s digital platform. During first 2020 quarter we have been working on this, and average price is: Web development + Platform Design + Machine Learning System: $1,500. This amount would be the first payment, but in the future, for the second fase we would need further investment especially for scaling the process through more cities in LATAM and maintenance .We are calculating an approx of $2,000 for opening our operations on each new city. Third, we will need to consolidate as a legal social enterprise (aprox 3000 USD). Fourth, invest for more visual and video content creation (At least, 3500 USD for first phase implementation) and finally, to start 2021 looking for business alliances to achieve sustainability by year end.

15. Growth Strategy: What are your main strategies for scaling your impact?

We have 3 main strategies: one, is geogrpahic spread through LATAM. Second, becoming open sourcing entity and third, creating alliances with universities, business, banks and fintech institutions in order to collaborate and receive a fee for generating earning income and achieve sustainability.

16. Activating changemakers: How are you giving people the power to control their own destiny and support other people to become changemakers in their communities?

When you are a young person you may not be conscious enough about the importance of financial literacy to better manage your limited income and expenses and how this knowledge could improve your life. So, getting your finances and future needs in order is paramount for creating peace of mind, financial security and independence. If you are free and independent you will be able to care for others and create change in the world. Not just by improving your financial situation that in aggregate will benefit the region. But, sharing your story and inspiring others... to become a changemaker.

17. Awards & Recognitions: What awards or recognitions, if any, has the project received so far?

FiLi became pitch competition first place winner at Shaping Horizons 2019, the first international summit and action programme on science, politics and innovation for a changing world, which brought together 150 young leaders from across the United Kingdom and Latin America to Cambridge University, for committing to the top world leaders and ignite change.

18. Tell us about how collaborations and partnerships would enhance the scalability and impact of your project

FiLi will be a Social Enterprise and the digital platform will become an open source for youth. However, in order to achieve sustainability, we need to create alliances and collaborations with universities, businesses, banks and fintech companies. There are many sectors interested in financial inclusion. Most of them, want to make their services reachable and need a well informed costumer. We will not tell youth where to go.But, we are going to teach them to make that decision by themselves.


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