September 29, 2023– Eleven young professionals have graduated from the inaugural Young Impact Associates (YIA) Program in Rwanda. The one-year professional development and leadership program in Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning (MEL) aims to help YIA program graduates access dignified and fulfilling work opportunities and inspire young African professionals to transform the Impact Measurement field.
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.
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 of communities in Rwanda, and Africa as a whole.
The Mastercard Foundation’s partnership with the implementing partner, Vanguard Economics, 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, Mads Knudsen, Co-Founder of Vanguard Economics, said, “With this initiative, we are very honoured to be representing its idea and vision here in Rwanda, especially because it aligns with our vision. Vanguard Economics vision is a future where populations shape their own destiny, and the Young Impact Associate program is the epitome of what we could have dreamt of.”
Yvonne Mutesi, a program graduate, had this to say about the program: “When I joined the program, it really enhanced the theoretical knowledge and understanding I had because you get to work on real life projects, and you learn by doing. We were mentored, we were guided, and at each and every step, we had people on our side who could show us how everything is done so it’s been a smooth journey for me.”
In his keynote address, Dr. J.P. Nzabonimpa, Head of Regional Evaluation Unit, WFP, South Africa remarked that, “It is a pleasure to join you today and I am humbled to be part of this gathering. As an educator, I feel proud seeing young people upskilled to re-engineer their professional journeys.”
“Youth are lifelong assets that can drive change in an impactful manner. It is key to invest in them,” said Antonio Capillo, Director of MEL Innovation, and Impact Labs at the Mastercard Foundation, adding that, “this graduation is not the end point but just the start of a journey not only in Rwanda but in Africa and the rest of the world.”
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 Vanguard Economics
Vanguard Economics Ltd. is a research and advisory firm based in Kigali, Rwanda. Our work is focused on maximising the impact private sector development, trade & logistics, and the commercialisation of agriculture can have on delivering transformation for markets and populations across Africa.
Vanguard Economics has hosted a graduation event for its first cohort of Young Impact Associates.
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