On Thursday 23rd July 2020, Mastercard foundation launched its Young Africa Works program which is a strategy that was informed by extensive consultation with leaders of African governments, private sector organizations, educational institutions, civil society, and, most importantly, young people themselves. Using youth employment as an indicator of progress, we believe this strategy will help millions of Africans find a pathway out of poverty for themselves and their families.
According to Samuel Yalew Adela, Country Head, Mastercard Foundation “Uganda Is the first country that we started working in Africa. Our objective is to skill youths to improve their livelihoods and income, and enable them Access dignified and fulfilling work.
The strategy focuses on youths especially young women who face additional barriers to skills development and accessing work. Breaking down these barriers is essential to the success of the program.The consultation that led to the program revealed the following;
Employment, particularly formal employment, leads to poverty reduction. Employment has emerged as a key predictor of people’s path and progression out of poverty. In particular, when young people can secure formal work and a steady wage, their lives improve.
Young people in Africa struggle to find formal work. Recent research undertaken by the Foundation in two countries in Africa found that among young people, very few had access to formal employment and most struggled to make a decent salary to live. All lived well below $10 per day. Those who could access steady employment were much better off than those who couldn’t.
Financial inclusion creates jobs. When small firms and entrepreneurs access financial services, they have the resources to grow, expand, and create job opportunities for others in the community. The benefits go beyond the entrepreneur and small business owner accessing the finance. There is a ripple effect that creates employment for others, providing them with a pathway out of poverty.
According to Reeta Roy, President of the Mastercard Foundation shared that “Africa is the youngest and fastest-growing continent in the world. We believe in the potential of Africa’s young people. They are optimistic and energetic. The time is right for the Foundation to drive systemic change in financial inclusion and education with the aim of increasing youth employment to reduce poverty”.
Over the next 12 years through the Young Africa Works program, the number of young people in the African labour market will increase to 375 million. This means that by 2035, there will be more young people entering Africa’s workforce each year than in the rest of the globe combined.
This generation is healthier and better educated than their parents. Through technology, they have easier access to information, consumer goods and services. The world they live in is more democratic. While the circumstances of their lives are measurably better than they were for past generations, a significant gap between the number of young people seeking work and the limited employment opportunities available to them means that they will face challenges finding formal employment, and a pathway out of poverty. Moreover, for some time, we’ve observed a mismatch between the skills of young people entering the workforce and the needs of employers.
According to CK Japtheth, “The work the Innovation Village has accomplished in 3 months with the support of the Foundation is almost equal to the work done by the organization in 2 years”.
The Innovation Village is a destination for entrepreneurs to nurture their ideas into sustainable business that provide lasting solutions to challenges in the world. The Innovation Village has hosted 140 startups, signed over 2000 members to our programs, received 4000 idea-applications from young entrepreneurs, ensured 70% inclusivity of women in our programs, raised over $3millions for funding for entrepreneurs, and signed 70 mentors to guide innovators on their journey towards reinventing the future.
The partnership with Mastercard Foundation has helped spread this vision to other districts across the country including Gulu, at the former largest bar, that has been transformed into a community that will host over 250 young people to network and connect, In Jinja at a 1930 building, and Recently In Mbarara. We are also working with 3 ghetto communities, with the intention to change and impact the lives of young people that had initially settled for robbery and substance abuse. These efforts are to ensure the single objective of MAKING UGANDA THE BEST PLACE TO BE AN ENTREPRENEUR.
“Uganda is not the most entrepreneurial country by mistake, it is time for us to stand up, lead and tap into the potential that Young people have to bring ideas they have to life” emphasized CK Japtheth
The Mastercard Foundation envisions a world where everyone has the opportunity to learn and prosper. We believe that all people, no matter their starting point in life, should have an equal opportunity to succeed.
H.E Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, President of Uganda, commended the works of the Mastercard Foundation for their efforts towards youth empowerment and transformation of youths in Africa over the last decade. The young africa works strategy is in line with the government’s role to achieve healthy and educated citizenry.
The president stated that once the problem is identified, it is easier to reach the desired goal and remove stagnated growth in africa. Government welcomes the efforts of MCF as a partner in skilling youths and creating employment. He acknowledged that there has been a mismatch between the curriculum and the job market.
He welcomed the mastercard Foundation Young Africa Works program into the country and wished them success in their endeavours.
Watch the recorded video of the launch here – Young Africa Works Launch