Young Africa Works

The Foundation launched its Young Africa Works strategy in Rwanda in 2018 marking a shift to focus on looking at countries holistically and identifying key growth sectors and opportunities to build a skilled workforce.

Our Goals: Enable 300,000 dignified and fulfilling work opportunities for young women and men by 2030.

Improve the quality of teaching and learning in secondary schools so young people have the skills and competencies they need to succeed in work and in life.

Context: Since 2000, Rwanda has experienced a period of sustained economic growth, social development, and political reform, lifting a million people out of poverty. Rwanda has set ambitious targets to achieve middle-income status by 2020 and is in the process of developing its National Strategy for Transformation and Vision 2050. The population is young and growing; close to 80 percent of Rwandans are below the age of 35 and the median age is 23.

Our Approach:

Our strategy places a stronger focus on MSMEs and entrepreneurship, primarily in the agricultural and tourism and hospitality sectors. The strategy will also integrate investments in education, skills, and the digital economy as key enablers to ensure transformation and scale as well as systems change. The focus will be on designing for and reaching the most vulnerable, including young women, rural youth, refugees, and youth living with disabilities.

We aim to enhance MSMEs and the entrepreneurship ecosystem, which enables enterprise development and growth in agriculture, and in tourism and hospitality.

Improving work opportunities in the agriculture sector for young people, mostly women, will also be a priority, with the vision for a better-skilled workforce, a well-coordinated sector, and innovative value chains.

Our work will also focus on diversifying the tourism and hospitality sector offering innovative, resilient, and inclusive ways to enhance dignified and fulfilling work opportunities for young people, especially women.

Additionally, we will work toward equipping young people in Rwanda, especially women and disadvantaged young people, with industry-relevant education and key skills for the 21st century to create and secure dignified and fulfilling work.

This will, in turn, create more digital economy business opportunities and jobs for young people, therefore actively contributing to the growth of Rwanda’s digital economy as a share of its GDP.

Our Focus Areas:

MSMEs support and Entrepreneurship development, Agriculture, Tourism and Hospitality, Education and Skills, and the digital economy.

Learn more about our partnerships in Rwanda.

News and Announcements

Eleven Young Professionals Graduate from the Inaugural Young Impact Associates Program in Rwanda

Eleven young Rwandan professionals, aged between 21 and 35, have graduated from the Young Impact Associates (YIA) Program.

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Financial Literacy as a Tool to Enhance Rwandan MSMEs’ Access to Finance

Financial literacy is a catalyst for enhancing access to finance for Rwandan MSMEs.

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Reimagining the Future of Youth Employment in Rwanda: A Journey of Resilience and Hope

Rica Rwigamba, Mastercard Foundation, provides reflections on tourism, digital readiness, and the future of our young generation in Rwanda.

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Unlocking the Potential of EdTech in Rwanda

EdTech in Rwanda is at an early but promising stage. Now is the time to build on this momentum to create a strong and inclusive EdTech industry in the country. Laterite, in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation, has prepared a new report that maps the state of the EdTech ecosystem in Rwanda.

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Teaching a New Generation to Own Their Narrative

A Mastercard Foundation Scholar studying economics in France, Gaju Benita Rutagarama is also working with iDebateRwanda to train children back home in public speaking, leadership, and owning their stories. “Debating allowed me to discover my leadership potential and my ability to influence others. That is why I am convinced that debate is a valuable and life-changing experience for the post-genocide generation of Rwanda to rise and create a better country,” she says.  

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Supporting Creative Industries as a Potential Job Sector

With the influence and reach of African artists and creatives having now gone global (thanks to social media marketing and digital streaming services), the continent’s creative sector is gaining momentum and interest from abroad. But what does this mean for a sector that is often overlooked and untapped from within? Helping creative entrepreneurs leverage digital technology through upskilling and digital literacy training, so they can capitalize on rising economic potential. 

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Closing the Gender Gap in STEM Education in Africa

Women and girls are underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) across the globe. And in many areas of Africa, there is a demonstrated lack of female STEM role models, as well as domestic pressures placed on girls and an entrenched cultural perception that men and boys are more suited to this work. To help close the gender gap, the Mastercard Foundation collaborates with local partners to design programs for increased participation of African girls and women in STEM education, two of which are in Rwanda.  

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COVID-19 Pivot: From a Blood Drive to a Wide-Reaching Health-Care Campaign 

MasterCard Foundation Scholars Jobe  Wuyeh and  Ozioma Paul were set to launch a blood drive and storytelling initiative in Rwanda. Then COVID-19 hit, and the pair had to think fast about how to give back to these same communities, now made even more vulnerable by the pandemic. They came up with the HOPE Campaign to raise funds in support of Solid’Africa, an NGO helping vulnerable patients by providing meals, hygienic products, and other services to accelerate their recovery

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Acting Fast to Help Vulnerable Families

“I was raised from a humble background. I know what it is like having a day without food,” says 25-year-old Norman Mushiga. When the COVID-19 pandemic led to social isolation and closed businesses in Rwanda, the agricultural studies graduate felt compelled to act. He began working with the local government to help identify the families most in need, and it wasn’t long before Mushiga’s friends at home and abroad joined in. Now, Mushiga and a small team of volunteers support 250 vulnerable families, including 50 women who are survivors of the 1994 genocide. 

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Making Life-Saving Information Accessible

Marie Pierre enjoyed her part-time volunteering job translating maternal and infant health information into local languages for Uridu, an international NGO. But when the call came to translate critical health protocols to help stop the spread of COVID-19, the Mastercard Foundation Scholar stepped up. “Our project targets rural women and marginalized women,” says Pierre, who now works six hours every day translating life-saving information for the local community.  

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