Lily Lapenna


It’s not all about Chicken and Chips

90% of adults haven’t had any financial education. Personal debt is over £1.5 trillion, greater than national GDP. 15% of young people thought an ISA was an iPod accessory, and 50% an energy drink. On the other hand, 48% of 18-24 year olds say debt is their biggest fear. 26% of Britons have no savings at all.

Lily Lapenna is the Founder and CEO of award winning UK social enterprise, MyBnk. Her non-profit organisation helps 11-25-year-olds in some of the poorest parts of London manage their money effectively and make enterprising choices. She’s created the county’s first FSA approved, independent, in-school and online youth-led banking scheme. 

From academies and supported housing to those in state care and young offender institutes, Lily’s practical education programmes are helping to shape the next generation of financially literate, entrepreneurial and responsible citizens. Lily is Italian and grew up between London, Italy and the USA within a very socially minded family. At 18 she left London for rural Zimbabwe working on youth AIDS awareness. A SOAS graduate in Development, she later worked in Asia for BRAC (Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee) and after this experience, returned to London and founded MyBnk. From a lone pilot and with no government funds, her charity has reached over 34,000 young Londoners in three years.

Her 24 microfinance branches offer young people a safe and accessible place to save, develop good financial habits. Pupils are trained to administer the banks and decide on approving 0% interest loans – 100s have had their first enterprise experience. As part of the this global movement, she is spreading her expertise to China with the Shanghai Better Education Foundation, Save the Children in Ghana, Kenya, Nepal and Columbia, and PEDN in Uganda.  This autumn the first of several UK social franchises goes live in the North West of England.

This year Lily was appointed a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. Selected as an Ashoka fellow in 2010, she was named Social Entrepreneur of the Year by the New Statesman in 2008 and her programmes continue to win awards for excellence in financial capability – most recently in 2010 by Children and Young People Now Magazine.Lily mentors and guide start-ups such as Big Society Award winners, FoodCycle, of which she is a Director. She sits on the Board of Trustees for CIVA (Centre for Innovation in Voluntary Action) and is an advisor to the charity Olive Branch for Children (Tanzania).

Biography published 2012

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