Mastercard has taken a significant step towards empowering disadvantaged youth in Kenya and Uganda, committing $50,000 and establishing a comprehensive program aimed at equipping them with crucial skills for today’s competitive job market. This initiative is a collaborative effort with Hatua.net, a UK and US registered charity focused on enhancing education and employment opportunities in these countries.

Despite primary education being free in Kenya and Uganda, the costs associated with secondary education often pose a barrier for students living in poverty-stricken areas. This challenge hinders many talented young individuals from realizing their full potential and contributing meaningfully to their communities. Hatua.net, which means ‘the next step’ in Swahili, aims to break this cycle of deprivation. The organization collaborates with primary and secondary schools, particularly those effective in placing students in leading universities, to offer sponsorships that can change lives.

Since its inception in 2010, Hatua.net has transformed the educational trajectory for more than 500 students, with over 90% gaining university admission. Aligning with the Hatua.net mission, investment by Mastercard will support a range of initiatives, including scholarships, mentoring, internships, and graduate employment programs. A significant focus will be on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education, recognizing the future potential in these fields.

Shehryar Ali, Senior Vice President and Country Manager for East Africa and Indian Ocean Islands at Mastercard, emphasizes the company’s commitment to building foundational knowledge and 21st-century skills. The goal is to equip the youth with networks, tools, and solutions for career success, thereby fostering a more equitable and prosperous future.

The partnership extends beyond financial support. Mastercard will also offer two graduate program placements, providing an 18-month rotation within the company and potential permanent roles. Additional initiatives include internship placements and a dedicated mentorship program. This program, supported by Mastercard’s Talent Management Team, will focus on practical skills like interview preparation, CV reviews, job application assistance, Microsoft Office training, and communication skills. Importantly, one-on-one mentorship from regional Mastercard team members will also be provided, aiming to build confidence, encourage self-expression, and enhance financial literacy.

The need for such programs is underscored by statistics highlighting the high unemployment rates among young people in Kenya, particularly those below the age of 29, including secondary school and college graduates. The partnership between Mastercard and Hatua.net aims to address these challenges by equipping youth with the necessary soft skills, education, training, and hands-on experience, which are critical for securing employment in both formal and informal sectors.

This initiative is a testament to Mastercard’s belief in ‘doing well, by doing good’, and its commitment to creating a brighter future for young people in Kenya and Uganda.

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