October 6, 2023 – Ten young Kenyan 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 Emara Ole Sereni Hotel in Nairobi.
Inspired by the late Sulley Gariba, Ghanaian thought leader in the MEL and International Development sectors, 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. In Kenya, 10 Young Impact Associates graduated today.
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 Kenya and in Africa.
The Mastercard Foundation’s partnership with Research PLUS Africa involved designing, managing, and delivering 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, Salline Handa, Team Lead for the impact partner organization Research PLUS Africa, said: “Africa is home to many development programmes; the YIA platform is an excellent opportunity to develop home-grown skills that will elevate the MEL space into one that recognizes the uniqueness of our continent and apply methodologies that are empathetic to the African context. We are excited to partner with the Mastercard Foundation and to be part of an ecosystem that does not only channel out professionals, but one that examines their interest in the development space, equips them with the necessary skills and provides them an opportunity for pupillage under the wings of senior local MEL professionals. We are in a unique space to not only grow individuals but to enrich the value chain in evaluating programmes through locally grown expertise. We look forward to continually decolonize the MEL space and provide actionable insights for programme implementation and evaluation.”
Faith Ronoh-Boreh, Program Lead at Research PLUS Africa, shared the following about the program and curriculum: “The Young Impact Associates Programme is dear to our hearts. It aligns to our vision of taking research, and of course MEL, to greater heights in Africa and value on talent nurturing. This, for us, begins by demystifying what it is and grounding it in our reality. To ground and decolonize the concept, we fondly refer to it as Tathmin, which comes from the Swahili word “Tathmini,” which means “[to] evaluate” in English. Looking at the MEL space in Kenya and in Africa generally, locals do not really take up key roles in evaluation; much less young people in this space. I am truly excited to see Tathmins eager to pull up seats and sit at tables in this space, not as props but as significant contributors and thought leaders in this space.“
The graduates of the program have expressed that it has not only provided them with valuable knowledge and skills but has also broadened their perspectives within the realm of monitoring and evaluation. They depart with an appreciation for the vital role this discipline plays in enhancing the efficiency and outcomes of diverse projects and programmes. This program has equipped Tathmins with the theory and practice of transformation. They now possess greater self-assurance and readiness to apply the principles and methodologies they’ve acquired in practical, real-world situations.
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 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.
About Research PLUS Africa
Research PLUS stands as a premier agency, exemplifying growth and achievement, pioneering a transformative movement in research and practical applications throughout Africa. Established in 2013, Research PLUS has forged a distinguished reputation for excellence, providing valuable Afrocentric research solutions and services that empower clients globally in making informed decisions. Our vision is to take research in Africa to greater heights.
Our guiding principles as a company are founded on Beyond Basics, Research Excellence, Ever Engaging, Novel Approaches, and Talent Nurturing.
Over and above our research services, we are passionate about our PLUS. Our PLUS is a clarion call to those in the research, monitoring, evaluation and learning space to join us in taking research in Africa to greater heights. Our key action under PLUS include: The Practitioner Academy is tailored for African professionals, offering them a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in research methodologies while directly applying their newfound knowledge to their organizations’ operations. Launched in 2020, it isas a collaborative initiative that promotes evidence-based practices and communication.
Our Learn Academy is dedicated to nurturing the next generation of researchers and fostering a culture of research excellence among them. This program adopts a practical, straightforward, and rigorous approach, making research less academically intimidating while maintaining its scientific integrity. We target students in tertiary and secondary/high schools.
By doing so, we have broadened our reach across various disciplines, fostering a sense of shared experiences. Research PLUS aspires to cultivate the young individuals who pass through our academy, encouraging them to pursue careers in research or instilling in them the importance of applying research principles in any other professional path they may choose.
We recently unveiled a collaborative platform aimed at empowering African researchers and revolutionizing the research landscape in the continent. Dubbed Research SPRING, the platform serves as a dynamic vehicle for originating cutting-edge research in Africa. It fosters collaboration and co-creation among all African stakeholders to produce impactful research that will shape the future of the African research and evaluation landscape. With an agenda driven by Africans for Africans, Research SPRING aims to build a robust local evidence base and curate knowledge product that drive socio-economic growth across the continent.
Research PLUS Africa
The Mastercard Foundation
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