Mastercard Foundation announces new fund to seed young African leaders' ventures
The Mastercard Foundation has announced a new fund that will enable young changemakers to seed and kick-start promising social ventures and community projects, creating economic opportunities for themselves and others. Over the next two years, the Foundation will dedicate US$2M for a pilot project that will expand Mastercard Foundation Scholars' capacity to exercise transformative leadership by putting their social and entrepreneurial ideas into action.
Giving back to community and a commitment to improving the lives of others is a cornerstone of the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program. Yet few leaders have the opportunity to make an impact at a young age. To lead successful social ventures, young leaders require financial support to kick-start promising ideas and bolster existing projects.
"We are compelled by the leadership of African youth and the vision they hold for the continent's future," said Shona Bezanson, Associate Director of the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program. "Whether it is providing quality education for refugee youth and children in Uganda, developing organic and cost-efficient fertilizers for low-income farmers in Zimbabwe, or creating a 'Made in Africa' brand that employs vulnerable artisans, Scholars are already activating their ideas for change with modest resources. We believe Scholars will seize this new opportunity to lead change in their communities."
Universities and institutional partners included in the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program will receive funding towards these efforts, leading the design and delivery of the competitive fund in a manner that reflects local context. The Foundation will lead monitoring and evaluation activities to learn, evaluate, and determine how to extend and scale the opportunity within and beyond the Scholars Program.
"The announcement of the new fund has been met with a lot of excitement across the Scholars Program," said Shantel Marekera, a Scholar at Arizona State University and the founder of Little Dreamers Foundation, an organization that helps Zimbabwean girls attend pre-school in Harare's Glen View 8 community. "Many Scholars have been shelving their innovative and revolutionary give-back ideas because of the absence of seed funding opportunities. However, this fund dedicated to support Scholars' social venture ideas will definitely encourage us to follow our passion and ignite change within our communities."
"The Scholars community is comprised of ambitious young leaders who are eager to create positive change in their community by using their game changing ideas, and whose only limitation is often a lack of funding," says Kayiza Isma, a Scholar at Makerere University and a co-founder of Sparky Social Enterprise, a project that leverages a low-cost, efficient technology to addresses post-harvest losses and food insecurity in Uganda. "The Mastercard Foundation's new fund will initiate a wave of community transformation across Africa by kickstarting hundreds of social ventures pioneered by young African leaders themselves."
Since 2016, the Mastercard Foundation has supported over 30 ventures founded by Scholars working to improve the lives of others. In Ghana, Happy Home Eco-Sanitation Company/Services has partnered with Ashesi University to build a 7-unit toilet facility at Berekuso Basic School, which will benefit about 1,000 people, as well as a standalone toilet facility in Berekuso for EduCare, a nursery school, which will serve 30 children under the age of 10. In Zimbabwe, the Little Dreamers Foundation anticipates its first cohort of 12 girls by January 2019 and continues to develop its poultry project, which will feed the children once they are registered in preschool and will reduce school fees for vulnerable families. In Uganda, Sparky Dehydrator has trained 400 farmers and sold 22 food dryers, 18 of which are currently used by farmers in five districts across the country.
"As much as a brilliant solution and a great team are needed to solve a difficult problem, accessing funds is highly essential for young leaders like ourselves," says Kwabena Adu-Darkwa, a Scholar at Ashesi University College and the co-founder of Happy Home Eco-Sanitation Services, an initiative that aims to provide low-income communities with access to environmentally friendly and affordable micro-flush toilets in Berekuso, Ghana. "This was our own experience - our idea to provide communities with access to safe, affordable toilets had to be shelved until we gained the needed financial backing. We believe this new seed funding initiative from the Mastercard Foundation will help catalyze give-back projects and will provide many other Scholars with the opportunity to convert their ideas into workable solutions."