Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, December 5, 2023 – The Mastercard Foundation has announced that it has enabled 1.27 million young people to access employment opportunities in Ethiopia since the launch of the country’s Young Africa Works strategy in 2019. Of the total number, 49 percent are young women.
Speaking at the second Mastercard Foundation’s Young Africa Works in Ethiopia Partners Annual Learning Summit, Samuel Yalew Adela, Mastercard Foundation Ethiopia Country Director, said that since 2019, 38 partnerships (including four COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience Programs) have been developed in Ethiopia with a commitment of $664 million.
In conflict-affected areas, psychosocial support and business development have been provided for women, organized and established enterprises, as well as the facilitation of affordable and accessible finance. Women’s peace forums have also been established, and training and grants for women-owned and informal enterprises have also been provided.
Samuel shared that the result is obtained through the Foundation’s partnerships with an aggregation of innovative private, public, civil society (NGOs), and grassroots organizations that bring relevant competencies to work together. He added that the Mastercard Foundation is committed to ensuring that 75 percent of its partners are African organizations to address root causes and support solutions that are scalable and bring about lasting change. In Ethiopia, the Foundation works with 53 organizations, 83 percent of which are in Africa: 20 percent non-profit, 14 percent public, and 66 percent private.
Youth unemployment is a significant problem in Ethiopia. According to the Ethiopian 2021 Labour Force and Migration survey, the country’s unemployment rate was eight percent as of August 2021. The national unemployment rate for women (11.7 percent) is more than double that of men (5.0 percent). Youth unemployment (among those aged 15-29) is 7.7 percent. Urban unemployment (17.9 percent) is significantly higher than rural unemployment. The International Labour Organization assessment report in 2022 estimated that more than two million young people enter the labour market every year, yet the economy is unable to meet the demand.
The Mastercard Foundation launched the Young Africa Works strategy in 2018 aiming to enable 30 million young women and men (70 percent young women) to access dignified and fulfilling work by 2030. The strategy was formulated in consultation with young people, the private and public sectors, financial institutions, ministries of government, educational institutions, and experts. The Foundation’s extensive experience also informed the strategy.
At its core, the Young Africa Works strategy seeks to:
In Ethiopia, the strategy was launched in late 2019 to enable 10 million young Ethiopians (70 percent young women) to have access to dignified and fulfilling work by 2030. The Foundation’s country roadmap focuses on agribusiness, agro-processing/manufacturing, and the digital economy. These sectors have the highest potential to create work opportunities for young people.
Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) make up the economic backbone due to their potential for employment creation and overall contribution to economic growth. The financing gap for MSMEs in Ethiopia is estimated to be $6.1 billion, of which 80 percent of the need is working capital. The sector continues to face challenges including:
Aligned with one of its charitable objectives, the Foundation has been working with visionary organizations to enable MSMEs to become financially resilient by availing diversified, affordable, innovative, and accessible financial products and services. This year’s Foundation Annual Learning Summit was conducted under the theme, “Commitment to action: access to inclusive and affordable finance to stimulate job creation.”
The Summit brought together around 200 participants and created the opportunity for policy and decision-makers to engage in insightful conversations and discussions allowing them to take significant steps and build an enabling environment that stimulates entrepreneurship and job creation. The event also enhanced Foundation partner and stakeholder commitment to take meaningful action that will enable young entrepreneurs to access financial services. The event was an opportunity for young people to connect, learn, and share experiences.
At the summit, a panel discussion was held with high-level officials from the Ministry of Labor and Skills (MoLS) and the National Bank of Ethiopia (NBE) along with Kifiya Financial Technologies, and Hibret bank to discuss access to Inclusive and Affordable Finance to Stimulate Job Creation.
A presentation was also made by the National Bank of Ethiopia on policy and regulatory enablers to enhance inclusive digital financial services for young people and MSMEs.
An exhibition was a core part of the summit, where Foundation partners, financial institutions, and young people participated. This was an opportunity to learn, share insights, and facilitate conversations.
About the Mastercard Foundation
The Mastercard Foundation is a registered Canadian charity and one of the largest foundations in the world. It works with visionary organizations to advance education and financial inclusion to enable young people in Africa and Indigenous youth in Canada to access dignified and fulfilling work. Established in 2006 through the generosity of Mastercard when it became a public company, the Foundation is an independent organization separate from the company, with offices in Toronto, Kigali, Accra, Nairobi, Kampala, Lagos, Dakar, and Addis Ababa. Its policies, operations, and program decisions are determined by the Foundation’s Board of Directors and leadership.
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