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Mastercard Launches Young Africa Works in Uganda

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The Mastercard Foundation recently announced its Young Africa Works (YAW) strategy program in Uganda. The program is set to enable more than 3 million young people 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.

During the virtual launch, His Excellency President of Uganda Yoweri Museveni noted Young Africa Works’ alignment to the government’s national development plan.

President Museveni said “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”. His keynote address during the launch 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 are also partners.

Mastercard Foundation President and CEO Reeta Roy noted that the implementation of Young Africa Works is already underway. Reeta also discussed the importance of collaboration among all stakeholders involved in Young Africa Works.

Mitigating the Impact of Covid-19

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. The program was launched to mitigate the adverse effects of the pandemic on businesses, the education sector, and on communities. 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. This amount has been used to expand access to finance, education. Skills training have also been offered to over two million people, including farmers, students, and out-of-school youth across the country.

Related: PAJC and Mastercard Foundation Enabling Ethiopia Project

“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. Especially 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. 82 percent of its population is under the age of 35.

Young Africa Works

Young Africa Works is the Mastercard Foundation’s strategy to enable 30 million young people across Africa to access dignified and fulfilling work by 2030. To realize this vision, the Foundation aims to contribute to the development of strong education and training systems that prepare young people for work. Also, effective labour markets that link young people to opportunities, and strong financial and key sector markets that drive productivity and create work opportunities.   

In Uganda, Young Africa Works will focus on the following priorities:

  1. Supporting agri-food systems and agribusinesses through the commercialization of agriculture.
  2. Strengthening Uganda’s growing tourism and hospitality sector.
  3. Leveraging the significant public and private investment in the construction sector by improving vocational training. Expanding access to financial services for micro-, small, and medium-sized enterprises working in construction.