Baobab Summit 2023

Here. Now. Using Our Voices, Shaping the World.

The Baobab Summit is a gathering of the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program, where our Scholars, Alumni and partners come together to connect, co-create, share, learn and reflect.

The 2023 Virtual Baobab Summit has been thoughtfully designed based on the desires and aspirations of our Scholars and Alumni. This year’s theme, “Here. Now. Using Our Voices, Shaping the World,” was co-created by the Scholars themselves. It celebrates the power of individual and collective action in making a positive impact. This Summit aims to provide a platform that resonates with their unique journeys, offering them the chance to engage with topics and sessions of profound importance to them.


This year’s virtual summit is by invite only but we encourage you to join the ongoing conversation on social media with #Boabab2023. In addition, we will be posting highlights of the conversations here. Watch this space!

Event 1: Here. Now: The Art of Courage

The 2023 Baobab Summit kicked-off  with Here. Now: The Art of Courage.  Hosted by Rosine Mukabagorora, a Mastercard Foundation Scholar Program Alumna, the virtual session opened with the awe-inspiring poem “The World Through My Imperfectly Perfect Vision” written and performed by Roza Abrham Abate, the brilliant winner of the “Speak Your Mind” competition. Roza’s words were not merely poetry; they were a resounding call to action. Roza painted a vivid picture of a world brimming with love, justice, and equality. She reminded us that we hold the power to create positive change, and to be the architects of the world we envision.

Next, Reeta Roy, President and CEO of the Mastercard Foundation, delivered a moving keynote address. With eloquence and wisdom, she illuminated the profound significance of courage. Reeta acknowledged the turbulent world we inhabit today, marked by stark disparities, imbalances of power, climate challenges, and conflicts. In the face of such daunting issues, she asked the fundamental question: Where does courage originate, and how can we summon it? Reeta’s perspective was enlightening, emphasizing that courage isn’t the absence of fear; it’s the acknowledgement of its presence. Drawing from American Professor and Author Brené Brown’s wisdom, she traced courage’s roots to its Latin origins, meaning “core” or “heart.” In essence, courage is about telling the story of your heart, of who you indeed are.

Following Reeta’s keynote was the exciting Ask-Me-Anything session with Reeta Roy. We opened up the conversation to our Scholars and Alumni to ask Reeta about her journey. She delved into the essence of purpose, kindness, and courage, offering impactful insights:

·         Discovering Your Purpose: Reeta emphasized the importance of discovering one’s purpose, an odyssey often commencing with self-discovery. “Your purpose,” she explained, “is the essence of your being, distilled into a simple yet profound calling.” It’s about having the courage to embrace your dreams, regardless of how audacious they may seem.

·         The Gift of Service: Reeta highlighted that everyone possesses a unique gift. As good human beings, our responsibility is to share that gift and be of service to others. “Being kind,” she noted, “is the mark of greatness, transcending status or position.” Acts of kindness, big or small, are instrumental in making the world a better place.

·         Overcoming Fear and Taking the First Step: Reeta shared her personal experiences and urged us not to be afraid. She encouraged us to have faith in ourselves and our abilities, to focus on what we love and what we are good at, rather than dwelling on limitations or potential obstacles. The key, she said, is to take the first step, breaking down overwhelming challenges into manageable tasks.

·         Courage vs. Confidence: Exploring the difference between courage and confidence, Reeta delved into the heart of the matter. She explained that courage often involves acknowledging fear and addressing its root causes. It’s about understanding why you lack confidence in a particular situation and taking steps to build that confidence by seeking help, resources, and solutions.

·         Leadership and Diversity: Reeta celebrated the diversity of thought within organizations, emphasizing the importance of listening. Diverse perspectives are invaluable for expanding ideas and making informed decisions. Listening, debate, and discussion are essential in reaching collective goals aligned with an organization’s mission. Trust, she noted, is the foundation of leadership—a prerequisite for effective collaboration.

·         The Joy of Impact: Lastly, Reeta expressed profound joy and gratitude, knowing that her work and her team’s efforts have helped young Africans get one step closer to their dreams. She emphasized that true heroes are those actively pursuing their dreams and making them a reality. The Mastercard Foundation stands as a friend, partner, and supporter on their journeys.

By embracing kindness, service, and the courage to pursue dreams, attendees left inspired and empowered to make a positive impact on the world.

Watch the Entire Session with Reeta Roy


You can read the full transcript of the session here.

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Explore Past Baobab Summits!

Celebrating 10 Years of the Scholars Program

In 2022, the Scholars Program turned 10. Together we reflected on what we have learned and looked to the next 10 years developing Africa’s youth leaders.

Learn more about Scholars@10

Watch: Reflections on a Decade of Impact

To kickoff Scholars@10: A Decade of Transformative Impact and Learnings our first virtual event, invited Scholars, alumni, and partners to share their reflections, achievements, and lessons.

Watch the full conversation here

Watch: Catalyzing Impact in Our Communities

This virtual event celebrated one of the key pillars of the Scholars Program; the Collective Impact of Our Community. We will look back on the impact the program has catalyzed within communities and discuss our renewed focus for the next 10 years.

Watch the full conversation here

Using One’s Voice to Question, Empower And Inspire

Elma Akob, Mastercard Foundation Scholar alum and Baobab Summit co-emcee writes about the power of using one’s voice to question, empower and inspire.

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How Changing My Attitude and Thought Patterns Created Purpose and a New Beautiful World

Mastercard Foundation Scholar Joy Birungi writes about how changing her attitude and thought patterns helped create a new, beautiful, and purposeful world.

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Reimagining My Realities

The COVID-19 pandemic has created new realities that have pushed me to reimagine my roles as a student, mother, professional, and cofounder.

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Meet the 2020 Resolution Social Venture Challenge winners

The Social Venture Challenge provides a pathway to action for socially responsible young leaders who want to create change in their communities.

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On Resilience

Benjamin Obeng, Mastercard Foundation Scholar Alumnus at Arizona State University delivered a keynote speech on resilience.

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Scholars Helping Syrian Refugee Students in Lebanon Gain Education through a Mobile App

Mahmoud Kanso, Nour Al-Bidewe, Zainab Al Mohammad, and Eslam Abo Alhawa are Syrian students living in Lebanon who have started a social venture called EduPass, a free-of-charge service to help other Syrian children in Lebanon who have dropped out of school due to an inability to pay school fees.

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