The Mastercard Foundation’s work is guided by its mission to promote learning and financial inclusion for people living in poverty. It is one of the largest foundations in the world and works almost exclusively in Africa. This Foundation – founded in 2006 by Mastercard, a global financial services company, announced the launch of a new initiative to start in Ghana that aims to give three million young people access to “dignified and rewarding” work by 2030.
Ghana has been identified as a priority country because it has a strong policy framework that supports economic and social development. National initiatives to reduce the cost of doing business, attract investment, take advantage of technology and improve access to education are currently underway. Ghana also has a vibrant private sector and entrepreneurial culture and is the world’s leading country in terms of women-owned businesses (46% of Ghana’s total).
Young Africans Work Programs aim to support entrepreneurs, small and medium-sized enterprises and key growth sectors, in order to increase productivity, job creation and employment opportunities. The company says the initiative is aligned with the government’s “A Jobs Agenda: Creating Prosperity and Equal Opportunities for All” plan, as well as Ghana’s commitment to position the country as a global center for entrepreneurship and technology.
“We have listened to the aspirations of young people in Ghana and they are creative, resilient and determined to contribute to the economic and social well-being of their country,” said Reeta Roy, President and CEO of the Mastercard Foundation. “Young Africa Works is building on the country’s economic agenda and momentum to drive transformative change that will lead to improved livelihoods and prosperity.”
With more than 35% of the population aged 15-34 and a youth unemployment rate of 12%, the Foundation will work closely with local partners to bring about changes that are essential for growth and job creation. Young Africa Works in Ghana will focus on three priorities, including:
- Promote the growth of women-owned businesses through business development services, access to finance and market access.
- Enable young people to acquire the skills needed by companies in growing sectors of the economy and enhance the quality of education to prepare students for the world of work.
- Expand digital training and strengthen technology-oriented employment opportunities.
Young Africa Works in Ghana has seen people like government, the private sector, academic institutions and young people come together to design the initiative. According to the Mastercard Foundation, there was an initial investment of $200 million and a five-year commitment to build a network of entrepreneurs and a community of innovative and digitally skilled young people.