Young Africa Works in Kenya to Connect Millions of Young People to Dignified Work

  • Public-private partnership between the Mastercard Foundation, the Government of Kenya, and the private sector
  • Part of the Mastercard Foundation’s strategy to benefit 30 million young people in Africa 
  • Ksh 30 billion committed to transition five million Kenyan youth to dignified work by 2023

Nairobi, June 20, 2019 – Young Africa Works in Kenya, a public-private partnership between the Mastercard Foundation, the private sector, and the Government of Kenya, was launched today in Nairobi. The initiative aims to support five million young Kenyans to access dignified and fulfilling work over the next five years. Young Africa Works in Kenya is aligned to the country’s economic priorities, including the ‘Big Four’ sectors (enhancing manufacturing, food security and nutrition, universal health coverage, and affordable housing), as well as the digital economy.

This partnership is part of the Mastercard Foundation’s ambitious strategy, Young Africa Works, to enable 30 million young people in Africa to secure dignified and fulfilling work by 2030. To achieve this, the Mastercard Foundation will implement solutions in 10 countries, including Kenya. The initiative will equip young people with digital, vocational, and life skills; use technology to connect employers and job seekers; and support entrepreneurs and micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) to grow and generate work through access to finance, business development services, and markets.

His Excellency President Kenyatta, who launched the initiative, said “We have a strong platform to expand job opportunities for our young people. We are now seeking to unlock their potential; with this platform being an important avenue to allow them to transform their lives, the country, and the world. What we are launching today will contribute significantly towards this goal in several ways.”

To start, the Mastercard Foundation has committed Ksh 30 billion to Young Africa Works in Kenya, and will engage the private sector, including financial institutions, to grow businesses in the ‘Big Four’ sectors and create more work opportunities for young people.

“Kenya has a vibrant entrepreneurial culture, a strong private sector, and an enabling policy environment,” said Reeta Roy, President and CEO of the Mastercard Foundation. “Young Africa Works in Kenya builds on this momentum to prepare and connect young people to opportunities that will grow the economy and transform their lives.”

This includes partnerships with Equity Group Foundation, Equity Bank Group, KCB Group, and KCB Foundation, which will provide billions of shillings in capital, business development services, and market linkages to MSMEs to support their growth.

Young Africa Works in Kenya will support the expansion of the Ajira Digital program, which will provide digital skills training and mentoring to young Kenyans as well as increase their access to locally available digital and digitally-enabled jobs. This implementation will be undertaken with Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA), and private sector innovators such as eMobilis.

In addition, Moringa School will provide digital and professional skills training in software development and data science through their blended learning model and will help place graduates in leading technology companies in Kenya and across the region.

The Mastercard Foundation is collaborating with the Ministry of Education to support the strengthening of technical and vocational education and training institutions (TVETs) in order to improve the employability of graduates, while working closely with the private sector.

“Entrepreneurship is the key to an economically empowered nation,” said Ruth Kaveke, Co-founder and Executive Director of Pwani Teknowgalz, and one of the speakers at the launch event. “Young entrepreneurs need access to finance and mentorship, and importantly, the right exposure to domestic and international markets to generate revenue and provide job opportunities for other youth in the country.”

For more information about Young Africa Works in Kenya, please visit

For more information about the Mastercard Foundation’s Young Africa Works strategy, please visit

About the Mastercard Foundation

The Mastercard Foundation seeks a world where everyone can learn and prosper. The Foundation’s work is guided by its mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion for people living in poverty. One of the largest foundations in the world, it works almost exclusively in Africa. It was created in 2006 by Mastercard International and operates independently under the governance of its own Board of Directors. The Foundation is based in Toronto, Canada. For more information and to sign up for the Foundation’s newsletter, please visit Follow the Foundation at @MastercardFdn on Twitter.

 The Mastercard Foundation in Kenya

Young Africa Works in Kenya builds on the Mastercard Foundation’s work in the country. Since 2009, the Foundation has invested more than Ksh 24 billion in programs and partnerships that have improved the lives of close to two million Kenyans. These programs have focused on increased access to education, livelihood opportunities, and financial services. Successful programs include Wings to Fly with the Equity Group Foundation, ReachUp! with Digital Opportunity Trust, and the Mastercard Foundation Fund for Rural Prosperity with KPMG East Africa.


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Kristy Tomkinson
Mastercard Foundation
Tel: +1-416-214-1426