Voice 1 Africa

Enabling young leaders to own their futures, Mastercard Foundation invests in African and Canadian youth providing vital opportunities to learn and prosper

Everyone deserves the opportunity to learn and prosper. 

Working with visionary organisations, the Mastercard Foundation is one of the world’s largest enablers of providing access to dignified and fulfilling work for young people in Africa and Indigenous communities in Canada. 

“We want a world where young people are included and are thriving and their leadership and contributions matter,” says Mastercard Foundation. “A future where young people are driving transformative change and achieving their full potential.”

Bringing together the private sector, donors, young people, and civil society, Mastercard Foundation is a developer of effective ecosystems and infrastructure, as well as a supporter of policies and an environment where young people can find work and entrepreneurs can succeed and grow.  

Education, women and employment

Working in 33 countries across Africa, the Mastercard Foundation has a three-step long-term plan for its operating areas:

  1. Improve the quality of education and vocational training to equip young people with the skills employers need
  2. Leverage technology to connect employers and job seekers, as well as drive growth
  3. Enable entrepreneurs and small businesses to expand through access to financial services

“We expect to work in a diverse group of countries with high levels of young people living in poverty who are vulnerably employed. These countries will have an enabling environment for growth, job creation, education and skills development, and an ability to influence within regions. We will also prioritise working with African organisations,” explains the Mastercard Foundation.

To date, the foundation has improved the lives of more than 50 million people, unifying its work around the single most complex challenge young people face in Africa – unemployment. 

Enabling young women to ‘own their futures’

Providing secondary education, financial literacy, and entrepreneurship opportunities, the foundation helps more than one million young women from disadvantaged backgrounds and rural communities gain access to vital skills. 

”This magnificent investment [US$10mn] by the Mastercard Foundation will enable Camfed to expand opportunities for girls and young women,” says Ann Cotton, Camfed’s Executive Director.  “Together, we will help a new generation of young women to access vital skills in financial literacy and entrepreneurship which will empower them to own their own futures.” 

First launched in 2011, Camfed’s program enables a continuum of support during school and post-school years, enabling young women to complete secondary education, gain financial knowledge, and test new approaches to launch innovative and diverse businesses in their rural communities. 

“Camfed’s holistic approach enables young women to become leaders of change and role models who re-invest back into their communities,” notes Reeta Roy, President and CEO of The MasterCard Foundation. 

Giving women a platform in agriculture

Backing an initiative established by Alluvial Agriculture, the foundation enables training and financial support for women in Nigeria to become tractor owner-operators. 

“For too long, women have been excluded from agricultural finance and mechanisation, despite the fact that they are the backbone of our industry,” says Dimieari Von Kemedi, co-founder and managing director of Alluvial Agriculture. “Our program is an important step in addressing this imbalance.” 

The initiative began in 2021, with training provided by a joint venture between Tata International and Alluvial Agriculture. Providing female-led farms with John Deere tractors, a percentage of fees earned are used to repay the tractor loan. Based on expected earnings new female-led businesses are expected to own between 20 and 50 tractors by 2028.

“The Mastercard Foundation is very excited about this partnership as it is an opportunity to drive inclusive growth for women in farming,” says Chidinma Lawanson, Nigeria’s Country Head at Mastercard Foundation.

Entrepreneurial skills and fostering a network ecosystem of support

In a bid to support more than 300,000 young adults, the foundation has partnered with Digital Opportunity Trust (DOT) to provide access to entrepreneurial skills and foster a network ecosystem of support. 

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