Heifer International program to provide jobs to 25,000 East African youth
The nonprofit Heifer International is launching a five-year, $18 million program in partnership with Mastercard Foundation to help 25,000 young people start small businesses or find jobs in the agricultural industry in East Africa.
By some estimates, more than half of Africa’s youth are unemployed, underemployed or inactive, the African Development Bank says, and this poses a serious challenge to social stability and economic growth.
Heifer and Mastercard Foundation will help address the issue with the “East Africa Youth Inclusion Program,” which will link youth with jobs and business opportunities in the dairy and agricultural industries in Uganda and Tanzania. The work could range from processing milk and providing veterinary services to repairing machinery and transporting products to dairy hubs.
The employment program, targeting youth between the ages of 15 and 24, will also link young entrepreneurs to financial institutions that will provide loans. Mentors will be available to help them with their businesses.
“Agriculture is a major industry in Africa, with tremendous potential to grow and employ the many young people looking for dignified work,” said Pierre Ferrari, president and CEO of Heifer, a Little Rock, Arkansas-based nonprofit working to end hunger and poverty with sustainable agriculture and entrepreneurship.
Karen Moore, program manager for Youth Livelihoods at the Toronto-based Mastercard Foundation, said, “Heifer has a proven track record in East Africa supporting smallholder farmers to increase their incomes through the East Africa Dairy Developmentprogram.”
The dairy program, launched in 2008, has improved production and market access for more than 1 million farmers in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.
Moore added, “We look forward to partnering with them to help young women and men acquire the skills and networks they need to find sustainable employment and entrepreneurship opportunities in dairy and related sectors.”
The US$18 million commitment from Mastercard Foundation will be supplemented by additional funds from Heifer, including a US$1 million revolving loan fund for young women and men who successfully complete the full training and are ready to start or expand a business.
Implementing partners include Youth Alive in Uganda and Restless Development and MIICO in Tanzania.