July 8, 2023 – Thirteen young Ghanaian professionals, aged between 21 and 35 have graduated from the Young Impact Associates (YIA) Program, a one-year professional development and leadership program in Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning (MEL). The graduation ceremony was held at the main campus of Simon Diedong Dombo University of Business and Integrated Development Studies (SDD-UBIDS) in Wa, Upper West Region.
Inspired by the late Ghanaian thought leader in the MEL and International Development sectors, Sulley Gariba, the Mastercard Foundation launched the YIA Program in 2022, with the aspiration to engage and inspire a new and dynamic generation of young African professionals to transform the Impact Measurement field.
The first phase of the YIA Program was collaboratively developed by the Mastercard Foundation Impact Team and its Impact Partner Organizations (IPOs) in five Young Africa Works strategy countries (Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Ghana, and Nigeria). The first cohort of 59 Young Impact Associates from the five countries is approaching graduation over the coming months, with the Ghanaian cohort being the first to graduate.
Ultimately, the program aims to help the YIA program participants access dignified and fulfilling work opportunities in the field of MEL, shape the MEL debate, and promote a practice that puts young people with MEL knowledge at the centre of development communities in Ghana, and Africa as a whole.
The Mastercard Foundation’s partnership with Participatory Development Associates (PDA) and SDD-UBIDS involved the design, management, and delivery of the YIA program’s one-year training curriculum, integrating context-relevant Impact theory and practice, leadership development, and on-the-job experience. The Young Impact Associates were selected through a rigorous, competitive, and public process ensuring inclusivity by encouraging persons with disabilities, those from vulnerable groups, and women to apply.
Over the course of the multi-disciplinary program, the Young Impact Associates had the opportunity to enhance their knowledge and skills in core development areas, which include fundamentals of MEL; design and management of evaluations; data management and analysis; Made-in-Africa evaluation principles; soft skills and interpersonal practice; and professional development and understanding of the job market.
Speaking at the graduation ceremony, Edem Agbe, Team Lead for the Impact Partner Organisation, PDA, said: “The program has paved the way for impacting the lives of young people in Ghana in a way that matters by providing the skills and experience for a sustainable career in evaluation. As partners with the Foundation, we are very proud of each YIA and we look forward to all that we will achieve together in the MEL space.”
The Pro-Vice-Chancellor of SDD-UBIDS, Prof. Emmanuel K. Derbile, who also chaired the event, presented executive certificates to the Young Impact Associates on behalf of the university with each Associate individually recognized for their accomplishments.
Letlotlo Morayo Gariba, who spoke on behalf of the Gariba family, shared her reflections, wisdom, and insights with the graduates, encouraging them to embrace their roles as future African and global Impact leaders. A plaque was presented to Mrs. Neo Gariba and family to commemorate the expansive work of Sulley Gariba.
In speaking about the program and curriculum, the Program Coordinator at SDD-UBIDS, Prof. Frederick Dayour said, “The Young Impact Associates Program curriculum was specifically designed and interlaced with theoretical and practical contents aimed at addressing specific gaps and needs within the Ghanaian environment, and the African continent at large. The gaps identified included opportunities to explore and train young professionals in the application of Indigenous or African-led evaluation techniques in evaluation practice. The YIA MEL program has afforded the YIAs ready-to-work skills in the MEL space and I believe they will have a better competitive edge in the job market having gone through a cutting-edge curriculum in MEL via the program.”
Salma Salisu, one of the program graduates, said “The YIA program has been a blessing and the journey has been very impactful, most especially the internship and mentorship programs at the various organizations we worked with. I intend to impart the knowledge and skills I have gathered so far with other young people interested in this field as I gain more experience working with organizations to promote accountability in the development sector.”
Antonio Capillo, Director of MEL Innovation and Impact Labs at the Mastercard Foundation, added that “The Young Impact Associates (YIA) Program was launched to prepare and inspire a new and dynamic generation of young African professionals to innovate and lead the transformation of the impact field by placing youth, their communities, and partners at the core of how we understand, measure, and enable impact at scale. We wish the young graduates the very best in their journey and anticipate their leading impact on the continent.”
About Participatory Development Associates
Participatory Development Associates (PDA) is a social development, project management and advisory organization that is based in Ghana and works across Sub-Sahara Africa. With over 20 years of experience, PDA works with government, non-government and private organizations, as well as multilateral and bilateral organizations, in areas such as research, monitoring and evaluation, policy analysis and advocacy, local economic development, education, agribusiness, child labour and remediation, financial inclusion (VSLAs & Cooperatives), gender, youth empowerment, and development. In particular, the organization has supported empowerment and self-determination processes in communities and individuals through development research, the design of independent and evidence-based process and impact evaluation systems for development programs, project design and management, and capacity-building for development practitioners. It is committed to realizing a proud and prosperous future for Africa, building on its own history and indigenous systems.
About SD Dombo University of Business and Integrated Development Studies (SDD-UBIDS)
The Simon Diedong Dombo University of Business and Integrated Development Studies (SDD-UBIDS) applies evidence from research and knowledge gained to solve the problems of business, national development, agencies, and non-state actors towards improved development outcomes. Its focus on applied research and practical-oriented tertiary education, highlights its dedication to the development of business and integrated development studies and related matters. Established in 2019 by an Act of Parliament (Act 1001), the University came into being in May 2020 with its main campus in Bamahu, Wa.
About Ghana Monitoring and Evaluation Forum (GMEF)
The Ghana Monitoring and Evaluation Forum (GMEF) is Ghana’s only formal Voluntary Organization for Professional Evaluators (VOPE). It undertakes capacity-building and advocacy on M&E through the organization of evaluation events such as conferences, workshops and forums in a bid to promote the cause of evidence-based decision making. As a network of public-spirited individuals who seek to promote open dialogue around M&E issues, GMEF fosters learning and collaboration among M&E practitioners, policymakers, researchers and other stakeholders towards positively influencing the development opportunities of our time with new insights, perspectives and tools.
About The Mastercard Foundation
The Mastercard Foundation is a Canadian Foundation and one of the world’s largest foundations, with a mission to advance education and financial inclusion. It works with visionary organizations to enable young people in Africa and in Indigenous communities in Canada to access dignified and fulfilling work. The Foundation was established in 2006 through the generosity of Mastercard when it became a public company. The Foundation is an independent organization and separate from the company. Its policies, operations, and programs are determined by the Foundation’s Board of Directors and leadership.
Participatatory Development Associates (PDA)
SD Dombo University of Business and Integrated Development Studies
Prof. Frederick Dayour
The Mastercard Foundation