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Foundation to train 100,000 youths by 2030

By Opeyemi Babalola
09 October 2022   |   4:02 am
Over 40,000 youths drawn from different African countries have benefitted from the Mastercard Foundation’s scholars programme meant to mentor and hone the skills of young people on the continent.

Some of beneficiaries of Mastercard Foundation Scholars Programme

40,000 Young Leaders Already Groomed
Over 40,000 youths drawn from different African countries have benefitted from the Mastercard Foundation’s scholars programme meant to mentor and hone the skills of young people on the continent.

Set up in 2012 with $500m grant, Mastercard Foundation, a Canadian charity organisation, aims at advancing learning and promoting financial inclusion to create inclusive and equitable world. The foundation has so far put in $1.7b to mentor the over 40,000 young people it has groomed with over 72 per cent of them women.

As part of its objectives, the programme has identified some talented young people from economically disadvantaged and hard-to-reach communities, supported their secondary and higher education pursuits, aside honing their leadership skills.

This year alone, it aims at supporting 15,000 young people, while about 18,544 have just graduated from diverse secondary and tertiary institutions.

Speaking on the initiative, the President and Chief Executive Officer of Mastercard Foundation, Reeta Roy, described the foundation’s alumni as leaders and innovators, adding that they were trained to tackle issues ranging from climate change to health inequity.

“Through a network of partners, the scholars programme is enabling bright and deserving young people to access quality education and develop leaders who do not just give back to their communities, but improve on the lives of others,” Roy said.

Citing a 2020/2021 survey of alumni members, Roy said 87 per cent of its secondary school leavers and 71 per cent of its university graduates are employed.

He disclosed that where its alumni have become entrepreneurs, they have collectively created over 16,000 jobs, while over 40 per cent of its university graduates support the education of their siblings.

Roy noted that its scholars are committed to giving back to their communities, which is a core principle of the programme, stressing that during their training, each person created or participated in a project addressing a specific challenge in their communities.

“My journey as a Mastercard Foundation scholar has always been about being a better version of myself, so that, I can go back to my community and help others,” Joanna Gunab, who is now a medical doctor practicing in Northern Ghana said.

Gunab, who is physically challenged, runs an initiative to support students with basic school necessities.

Another alumni of the programme, Faith Kipkemboi, is driving a transformation initiative in Kenya. She founded a community-based organisation, Cactus Mama, to deliver evidence-based, high quality and affordable mental health services in remote areas, especially for women. “We hope to create a better Kenya; a healthier Kenya,” she said.

The programme began with a strong focus on secondary education, working with partners including Forum for African Women Educationists (FAWE), African Leadership Academy (ALA) and Equity Group Foundation (Wings to Fly) to provide young people access to high school and improve completion rates — particularly for girls.

As more African countries adopt free secondary education policies, Roy stated that the scholars’ programme is focused on higher education, where tertiary enrollment rates across the continent has remained low.

Founder and Trustee of CAMFED International, Ann Cotton, said the Foundation is poised to improve quality, relevance and inclusion in secondary education to prepare young people for the world of work.

“Our partnership with the foundation is exceptional and has enabled us fulfill our vision for post-secondary school years. Every child matters and the foundation looks at justice in the broadest possible sense from the most impoverished and marginalised child to the most powerful institution with whom they work,” Cotton said.

According to him, the programme has grown into a network of over 40 pan-African and global partners working together to drive inclusion in education.

Over the next decade, he said the programme will double its reach to support a total of 100,000 young people, 70 per cent of whom will be young women. “It will also dedicate more attention to inclusion of physically challenged and displaced young people.

“Moving forward, the foundation will support network of higher education partners to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in ways that enable dignified work for young people in Africa. This is in line with its young Africa works strategy, which aims to enable 30 million young people across the continent to access dignified and fulfilling work by 2030,” he said.

Founding President and Chief Executive Officer, BRAC USA, Susan Davis, one of the partners, said the scholars wanted to do something not just for themselves, but also for others.

“They are very much motivated by an altruistic spirit. And I think that is the power of this transformative approach. I really do not think there is a better way than investing in young people,” Davis said.

Founder and Chairman, African Leadership Academy, Chris Bradford, tasked alumni members to have a network that will invest in the success of incoming groups.

“Where do I hope the Mastercard Foundation Scholars programme will be in 10 years? I hope that it will have a vibrant alumni network that will invest in incoming cohorts. That is the single thing that we must get. If we get that right, we will have a metaphor that does not work in most of Africa, but we will have a snowball rolling downhill and gaining momentum in size as it goes.

Maxwell Aladago, a PhD student at Dartmouth College, where he is currently focused on research for solving some of Africa’s most pressing challenges, said he benefitted a lot from the scholars’ development initiatives such as the summer internship fund, which sponsored his first internship.

Founder of Hepta Analytics and graduate of Ashesi University and Carnegie Mellon University Africa (CMU-Africa), Rahab Wangari, said through the scholar’s programme, he was able to get world-class education.