The MasterCard Foundation Launches Innovative US$74 Million Youth Employment Initiative in Ghana and Uganda

The “Youth Forward Initiative” brings together multiple organizations to train and help transition 200,000 young people into sustainable jobs in the construction and agricultural sectors

Entebbe, Uganda, December 2, 2015 — The MasterCard Foundation is launching an innovative youth employment initiative in Uganda and Ghana at a meeting in Entebbe, Uganda this week with representatives from financial service providers, relevant government ministries, the private sector, educational institutions and youth-based organizations. The “Youth Forward Initiative” is a partnership between The MasterCard Foundation, Overseas Development Institute, Solidaridad, GOAL, NCBA CLUSA and Global Communities.

This five-year, US$74 million initiative will reach more than 200,000 economically disadvantaged young people, aged 15-24. It is focused on youth living on less than $2 per day, who are out of school, unemployed or underemployed and are seeking quality employment or the opportunity to start their own businesses in the growing agricultural and construction sectors. This innovative model uses a holistic approach that combines market-relevant skills training, mentorship, internships and access to financial services to help young people transition out of poverty and into sustainable livelihoods.

“The Foundation recognizes that in order for youth to reach their full potential, they must have access to the right skills and opportunities,” said Ann Miles, Director of Programs, Financial Inclusion & Youth Livelihoods at The MasterCard Foundation. “By bringing together multiple partners with varying types of expertise, we can better support young people through practical skills development, networking opportunities and access to appropriate financial services so they can successfully find a job, further their education or start their own businesses.”

The Youth Forward Initiative will be implemented through partnerships with four consortia comprised of 28 organizations. In Ghana, Solidaridad will lead a group of organizations that plan to create business and job opportunities for young people in the cocoa sector and Global Communities will do the same, focusing on the construction sector. In Uganda, GOAL and NCBA CLUSA will lead consortia connecting young people to employment and entrepreneurship opportunities in the agricultural sector.

In addition, Overseas Development Institute (ODI) along with Development Research and Training (DRT) of Uganda and Participatory Development Associates (PDA) of Ghana have been engaged to generate critical learning about the initiative.

“The scale and scope of the Youth Forward Initiative presents an exciting opportunity to learn more about the needs of young people and how to improve economic opportunities for them across different sectors and regional contexts,” said Peace Nganwa, Youth Forward Initiative Coordinator for Development Research and Training (DRT). “The learning partnership will facilitate conversation and learning between implementing partners, the private sector and government, working to ensure that research and evidence inform their decision-making.”

Young people in Sub-Saharan Africa face several challenges as they seek a sustainable means of living, including low levels of education and skills, limited access to appropriate financial services such as credit and negative perceptions and discrimination from employers. As a result, most young people on the continent find themselves employed in informal jobs with low productivity and pay.

The Youth Forward Initiative specifically targets sectors in Africa that have the highest potential for job growth: agriculture and construction. The World Bank expects that 72 percent of young people will be engaged in household enterprises in agriculture over the next five years. The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that the construction sector will generate 5.1 million jobs over the next 10 years.



About The MasterCard Foundation

The MasterCard Foundation works with visionary organizations to provide greater access to education, skills training and financial services for people living in poverty, primarily in Africa. As one of the largest, independent foundations, its work is guided by its mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion in order to alleviate poverty. Based in Toronto, Canada, its independence was established by MasterCard when the Foundation was created in 2006. For more information, please visit www.mastercardfdn.org or follow us on Twitter @MCFoundation.


About Overseas Development Institute

The Overseas Development Institute (ODI) is the UK’s leading independent think tank on international development and humanitarian issues. Their work is characterized by high quality, relevant research and close engagement with policymakers and public affairs through events, a wide range of publications, media outreach and digital channels. In particular, ODI is renowned for its work with local partners and stakeholders in developing countries, and their approach builds capacity among local actors to drive sustainable change. Learn more at www.odi.org


About Solidaridad

Solidaridad is an international development organization with more than 45 years of global experience in facilitating the development of socially responsible, ecologically sound and profitable supply chains. They bring together supply chain actors and engage them in innovative solutions to improve production, ensuring the transition to a sustainable and inclusive economy that maximizes the benefit for all. Solidaridad envisions a world in which everything we produce and consume can sustain us all, while respecting the planet, each other and future generations. (www.solidaridadnetwork.org)


About Global Communities

Global Communities is an international non-profit organization founded in 1952 that works closely with communities worldwide to bring about sustainable changes that improve the lives and livelihoods of the vulnerable. Global Communities believes that the people who understand their needs best are the people of the community itself. Global Communities has made a difference in more than 80 countries by engaging with communities, government and business as partners for good – bringing together complementary strengths and shared responsibilities to work toward common goals. Learn more at www.globalcommunities.org


About GOAL

GOAL was founded in 1977 and has invested over $1 billion on humanitarian and development programs in more than 50 countries. In regions of underdevelopment, GOAL implements market development programs aimed at stimulating long-term positive change for poor and marginalized groups including women and youth, by reducing their economic and social vulnerability, strengthening market systems and supporting individuals and communities to create their own pathways out of poverty. Learn more at www.goalglobal.org



The National Cooperative Business Association, CLUSA International (NCBA CLUSA) is the trade association for cooperative businesses in the United States and an international development organization. NCBA CLUSA provides cross-sector advocacy, education and technical assistance that helps cooperative businesses thrive. Since 1953, NCBA CLUSA has worked in over 85 countries in the areas of cooperative development, food security and nutrition, agricultural development, community-based health, natural resources management and empowerment of smallholder farmers, women and youth. Learn more at www.ncba.coop


For more information, please contact:

Kristy Tomkinson

Communications Associate

The MasterCard Foundation



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