Last month, Mastercard Foundation launched a landmark project targeting to create 30 million jobs in Africa. The ‘Young Africa Works’, which was officially unveiled in Kigali will particularly see the foundation invest USD100 million in Rwanda for the next five years.
Sunday Times’ Julius Bizimungu spoke to Reeta Roy, the President and Chief Executive Officer of Mastercard Foundation to share insights on how the new initiative will create the targeted jobs, and the extent to which Rwanda will benefit from the new investment.
Below are excerpts;
Mastercard Foundation announced last month in Kigali the new strategy, Young Africa Works, which seeks to create millions of jobs for young Africans. Take us through the process in which these jobs will be created?
Our new strategy focuses on providing young people, particularly young women, with the skills, education, and financial tools and services they need to find dignified and fulfilling work.
We will work with governments, the private sector, and educational organizations to improve the quality of education and vocational training so that it equips young people with the skills employers need; leverages technology to connect employers and job seekers; and enables entrepreneurs and small businesses to grow and create jobs through access to financial services.
The Foundation is making more investments in a continent where it already has made its footprint for the last decade. What is driving your commitment to invest in Africa?
The Mastercard Foundation is committed to working in Africa because there is a tremendous opportunity to make a significant impact.
Over the last decade, the Foundation’s programmes have improved the lives of more than 25 million people in Africa. It has been a time of listening, doing, and acquiring insight about how we can contribute to a world where all people have the opportunity to learn and prosper.
We see this as an optimistic and exciting time for the continent. Young people today are growing up with better access to education, health, technology, and opportunities. However, over the next 12 years, the number of young people in the African labour market will increase to 375 million.
Most importantly, it is young people who have continued to inspire and motivate us. Over and over, they have told us to be bold in our goals. We know that young people want to drive the change. They want to be more than just beneficiaries of programmes; they want to be job creators. Young people are leading the way, and we want to accompany them on their journey.
To what extent do you see foundations like yours taking part in addressing pressing societal issues like poverty and youth unemployment especially in developing countries?
Foundations around the world are addressing pressing societal issues.
As an independent, private foundation, the Mastercard Foundation is well placed to address this challenge of youth employment in Africa.
We want to leverage our learning and develop programmes that are country-specific and integrated. We believe this will achieve greater impact on the lives of young people in Africa as well as their families, communities, and countries.
We also bring private sector approaches, expertise, and a long-term perspective to this challenge.
Our Foundation is a funder, convener, and catalyst for innovation and change. We want to influence and inspire others to work with us, or alongside us, to address the challenge of youth employment in Africa.
It is estimated that, by 2030, there will be more than 375 million people under the age of 35 in the labour market. How can Africa create meaningful jobs for these young people?
The recent signing of the African Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) is an important milestone for the continent’s growth and prosperity. This agreement will set the stage to expand markets and create jobs.
Additionally, strategies that promote education, skills training, entrepreneurial development, and financial services for young people will be critical in advancing economic and social progress.
Talking about the new Foundation’s strategy, Rwanda is the first country where implementation will take place. Why did you choose Rwanda in the first place?
Rwanda has generated a momentum on which we can build. In the last two decades, the country has experienced a period of sustained economic growth, social development, and political reform, lifting a million people out of extreme poverty. We have found strong partners in the Government and the private sector.
Since 2001, the Foundation has committed more than US$190 million to education, youth employment, and financial inclusion projects in Rwanda. Close to 1.75 million citizens have benefitted from our projects.
Launching our two new initiatives, Hanga Ahazaza and Leaders in Teaching, in Rwanda allows the Foundation to leverage existing partnerships and networks, and to build on our knowledge and expertise.
You made a commitment to double your investment in the country, adding more USD100 million in the next five years. What impact do you want to see in the next half decade?
The Foundation is driven to achieve long-lasting impact. That is why we are working closely with governments, the private sector, educational institutions, and young people to find sustainable, innovative solutions that are aligned with local, regional, and national priorities.
With Hanga Ahazaza and Leaders in Teaching, we aim to improve the quality of education and vocational training so that it equips young Rwandans with the skills they need to secure dignified and fulfilling employment. In addition, our Centre for Innovative Teaching and Learning in ICT will explore new and innovative approaches to improving educational outcomes.
After five years, we want to see a demonstration effect. What we learn in Rwanda, we will bring and adapt in other countries. We want to influence and inspire others to work with us, or alongside us, to address the challenge of youth employment in Africa.
In Rwanda, you launched two programmes that will create thousands of jobs for young people and women. Tell us how these initiatives will benefit Rwandans?
Hanga Ahazaza aligns with Rwanda’s goal to build a globally competitive tourism and hospitality industry, which is projected to create 150,000 direct jobs by 2030.
Working together with TVETs and the private sector, we will prepare 30,000 young people to enter into or advance their careers in this industry. We will also enable entrepreneurs to access capital and technical support so they can grow their businesses and the sector. At least half of the young people who participate in Hanga Ahazaza will be young women.
Leaders in Teaching aims to remove the barriers to quality teaching and learning so that young people have the skills and competencies they need to succeed in work and in life. Working with the Government and educators in Rwanda, we will provide training and mentoring to 8,250 teachers in STEM disciplines. We will improve the capacity of 2,250 head teachers to lead positive instructional environments in schools. In addition, we will engage 600 passionate young people in the teaching profession. Through this initiative, more than 250,000 secondary school students in Rwanda will benefit from relevant secondary education.
How would you describe the impact of your work in the country, and how do you track progress of your work?
Since 2011, close to 1.75 million Rwandans have benefitted from our programmes that expand and enhance financial inclusion, education, and youth livelihoods.
We work with partners like One Acre Fund, to increase productivity of smallholder farms through agricultural training and increased access to finance; SNV Netherlands Development Organisation, to provide young women and men with life, business, and technical skills training and linking them to employment opportunities; and Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE), as part of the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program, to enable students to complete quality secondary and university education in Rwanda and become catalysts for social and economic transformation across Africa.
The Mastercard Foundation is a learning organisation. At the onset of our projects, we collaborate with partners to define what we want to achieve and learn. We share what we’ve learned within our network and beyond, so that others can magnify our impact.
How soon shall we see the Regional Centre for Innovative Teaching and Learning in Rwanda up and working?
The first Centre for Innovative Teaching and Learning, focused on ICT, will be established in Kigali in September 2018.
What core aims will the centre be having, and was the decision to establish it here based on your successful work in the country?
We established the Mastercard Foundation Centre for Innovative Teaching and Learning in ICT in Rwanda based on the country’s significant progress in strengthening its education system over the past decade. Rwanda has improved quality, promoted entrepreneurship, and changed the core curriculum to prepare students for a competency-based world.
This Centre will develop and disseminate promising practices in ICT for teaching and learning in secondary education across Africa. It will support education leaders to formulate evidence-based ICT policies and plans; foster a network of education innovators; and develop new digital learning resources for African classrooms.
The Centre will also advance understanding of ‘what works’ in ICT for education through knowledge generation and sharing of best practices.