The MasterCard Foundation Partners with Digital Opportunity Trust to Expand its ReachUp! Entrepreneurship Program Efforts to benefit up to 100,000 youth in Kenya and Rwanda

Efforts to benefit up to 100,000 youth in Kenya and Rwanda

Ottawa, September 28, 2010 — Digital Opportunity Trust (DOT), an Ottawa-based development agency, is pleased to announce its partnership with The MasterCard Foundation to significantly expand the ReachUp! program in Kenya and Rwanda to train 100,000 young African women and men. ReachUp! creates in-country youth leaders who train their peers in entrepreneurship and the benefits of computer, internet and digital communications technology to enhance economic development.

The strategic $5 million, three-year partnership came into effect July 1, 2010, and was launched today during a special presentation marking DOT’s annual Intern Week. DOT will recruit and train more than 500 young Kenyan and Rwandan leaders who will in turn positively affect up to 100,000 recipient youth in the two countries.

“Our partnership will equip young people from economically disadvantaged communities with skills and resources to enable them to create their own livelihoods” said Reeta Roy, President and CEO, The MasterCard Foundation. “We value this youth-led approach where young people are delivering the program to their peers.”

DOT, founded in 2001, has grown rapidly and currently operates in 11 developing countries and regions.

“DOT is delighted to have its innovative model and its track record of delivering proven, practical results recognized by The MasterCard Foundation,” said Janet Longmore, DOT’s President and CEO.  “Our organizations share a common focus on educational, economic and entrepreneurial opportunities for youth. Our efforts will also be directly contributing to the priorities of both Kenya and Rwanda and the economic progress that Africa is experiencing.”

Dr. Bitange Ndemo, Permanent Secretary, Ministry for Information and Communications, Government of Kenya, spoke at the reception via telepresence from Nairobi. He highlighted the importance of developing Kenya’s young people as active participants in the country’s economy and Kenya’s national priority to be a technology leader – a digital destination.

Two young DOT Intern leaders already working in the field, Rita Muthoni Muniu, from Kenya and Eric Rukundo Sebasore, from Rwanda, spoke passionately about their on-the-ground experiences and how they are bringing modern solutions to budding entrepreneurs and small enterprises in their communities.

In addition to The MasterCard Foundation, DOT’s other major partners include the Canadian International Development Agency, Cisco Systems and IBM.

About DOT

Established in Canada in 2001, Digital Opportunity Trust is an innovator in enabling people to access and apply information and communications technologies (ICT) to create education, economic and entrepreneurial opportunities. DOT’s vision is to make these opportunities available to marginalized people, especially women and youth, as a strategy to eradicate poverty, vulnerability and gender inequality. DOT’s signature entrepreneurship program, ReachUp!, integrates ICT, life skills, and microenterprise development and is delivered in a cost-effective manner, using recent university graduates to train and build capacity of youth in their communities. For more information, see www.dotrust.org.

About the DOT Model

DOT’s unique ReachUp! model has, in the organization’s nine year history, seen 2,000 young interns trained and paid a stipend for a year. They have taken their skills back to their communities where they have helped over 200,000 community members achieve their goals – as teachers, artisans, small manufacturers, tourist operators, agriculturalists, merchants, exporters – whoever has ambition and a dream that can be realized with the help of technology and the peer-to-peer support, mentoring and coaching that the DOT Interns provide. DOT harnesses the energy and commitment of local youth, transforms young people to become leaders of change and leaves a lasting legacy of belief in self that is achieving real in-country progress.

About The MasterCard Foundation

The MasterCard Foundation’s mission is to fuel innovative solutions to global poverty. The Foundation partners with leading organizations in two program areas, microfinance and youth learning, to explore, test and scale solutions that make a meaningful and measurable impact on the world’s poor. It is an independent, private foundation established through the generosity of MasterCard Worldwide at the time of the company’s initial public offering. For more information, see http://localhost/mcf/.