On Thursday, 23rd July 2020, the Mastercard Foundation announced its Young Africa Works strategy in Uganda, which has set a goal to enable more than 3 million young people in the country to access dignified and fulfilling work opportunities by 2030. Under Young Africa Works, the Foundation has committed $200 million to ensure young women, men, and refugees in Uganda have access to economic opportunities.
Presiding over the virtual launch of the strategy, His Excellency President Yoweri Museveni noted Young Africa Works’ alignment to the government’s national development plan.
“I commend Mastercard Foundation for your efforts towards youth empowerment and transformation in Africa over the last decade. I am glad to note that your focus over the next decade is on uplifting young people by expanding employment opportunities. The Young Africa Works strategy is in line with the work that our government is doing to achieve the goal of a healthy, educated, and prosperous population” said His Excellency President Yoweri Museveni during his keynote address, which was live-streamed from the State House.
Young Africa Works in Uganda focuses on three economic sectors, including agriculture, tourism and hospitality, and construction/housing. The Mastercard Foundation is working with a range of partners to realize its goals under Young Africa Works. Partners already working with the Mastercard Foundation include: the Private Sector Foundation Uganda, The Innovation Village, Gudie Leisure Farm, GOAL Uganda, the National Social Security Fund, and Equity Bank Uganda.
Speaking at the launch, Mastercard Foundation President and CEO Reeta Roy noted that the implementation of Young Africa Works is already underway and discussed the importance of collaboration among all stakeholders involved in Young Africa Works.
“We have formed partnerships with a number of organizations and together, if we are successful, they already represent 30 percent of the goal of having 30 million people in dignified and fulfilling work,” she said. “What’s special is how our partners have come together to intentionally collaborate and leverage each other’s strengths,” she added.
During the launch, speakers recognized the impact of COVID-19 on various economic sectors in Uganda. In April, Mastercard Foundation announced the Mastercard Foundation COVID-19 Recovery and Resilience Program in Uganda to mitigate the adverse effects of the pandemic on businesses, the education sector, and on communities, while strengthening the country’s public health system and response. To date, the Foundation has committed approximately $23.7 million to its COVID-19 response in Uganda.
The Mastercard Foundation has been working in Uganda since 2008 and has invested a total of more than $282 million in expanding access to finance, education, and/or skills training to more than two million people, including farmers, students, teachers, and out-of-school youth across the country.
“In many ways, the Foundation’s relationship with Uganda is special. Uganda was the Foundation’s first partner country in Africa,” said Samuel Adela Yalew, Country Head at the Mastercard Foundation. He also noted that Young Africa Works would be building on a decade of work and achievements.
The Honourable Minister for Education and Sports Janet Museveni also reflected on the long-standing partnership of the Mastercard Foundation in the area of education.
“I believe we can now say that the Mastercard Foundation is a faithful friend of Uganda. In the last decade alone, they have provided quality education opportunities to over 6,000 young people in the country,” she commented.
Uganda is home to the second largest population of young people in the world with 82 percent of the population under the age of 35. Young Africa Works has already begun positively impacting Uganda’s young people.
“It has helped me to get some money to buy food and to clothe myself” said Akiding Elizabeth Oumo, a program participant who benefitted from skills training conducted under Young Africa Works.