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Press Release: Research Calls for New Approach to Youth Employment Training Strategies in Africa

 

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Youth Livelihood Diaries Shed New Light on Working Lives of African Youth

Kigali, Rwanda, February 17, 2017 Innovative research released today by The MasterCard Foundation is making the case for a new approach to youth employment training strategies in Africa. Invisible Lives: Understanding Youth Livelihoods in Ghana and Uganda, released today at the Young Africa Works Summit in Kigali, Rwanda, sheds light on the working lives of African youth. The report, produced in collaboration with Low-Income Financial Transformation (L-IFT), argues that international development programs favour skills training for formal sector careers over training that can be applied to multiple jobs in the informal sector. The result is that their efforts fall short of reaching the millions of unreached youth on the continent who engage in mixed livelihoods.

“To reach a critical mass of young people, fundamental shifts in our approach to skills-building, access to finance and entrepreneurship support are necessary,” says Lindsay Wallace, Director of Learning and Strategy, The MasterCard Foundation. “Development efforts must strengthen social, education and economic systems, and promote inclusive growth that will provide the most vulnerable and marginalized young people with opportunities to improve their lives.”

Invisible Lives set out to explore how young people integrate mixed livelihoods into their working lives, what challenges this approach poses, and how best to design interventions for young people in the informal sector. The research used a diaries methodology to document the working lives of 246 youth ages 18-24 from Ghana and Uganda over a one-year period, honing in on questions around behaviour, income, economic activities, and time management. While these data speak to the realities of employment in Ghana and Uganda, the research suggests that these also reflect emerging trends across Africa.

Invisible Lives highlights the extraordinary lengths that young people go to in order to achieve sustainable livelihoods. Findings of the Invisible Lives research indicate that:

  • Young people in Africa diversify their livelihoods, undertaking a mix of informal sector employment, self-employment, and agriculture-related activities to sustain their livelihood.
  • Agricultural production is central to young people’s livelihoods, but agricultural incomes were meagre. Many young people run small enterprises that can be easily started, stopped, and restarted as needed. The most successful young people in both Ghana and Uganda diversified their income and risk by growing multiple crops, raising a variety of livestock, and pursuing a wide range of additional activities.
  • Both formal and informal wage employment is rare and sporadic, or elusive. While the informal sector, which constitutes about 80 percent of Africa’s labour force, provided more wage employment opportunities for young people, they were by no means abundant.
  • Support networks are critical for young people and they play an extensive role in their lives, not only providing support in the form of advice regarding where to look for and how to find employment, skills development, and business guidance, but also proving instrumental in accessing financial resources needed.

“Respondents who participated in this study generously shared experiences from their lives over the course of a full year,” explains Anne Marie van Swinderen, lead researcher on Invisible Lives from Low-Income Financial Transformation (L-IFT). “Data from the study shows us that these young people readily take up all opportunities that come their way, with enormous energy and positive spirit. Through the L-IFT diaries methodology, these young respondents and the young researchers who interviewed them, also grew a great deal, simply through the act of asking and answering questions about their diversified livelihoods.”

In addition to providing new information on the employment and risk-mitigation strategies of young working Africans, the research maintains that youth who participated in this study were largely invisible to both development organizations and their own governments, and did not have any access to support services, training or finance capital.

 

To follow the conversation at the Young Africa Works Summit, follow the Foundation on Twitter @MastercardFdn and the event hashtag: #YAW2017. Summit materials can be found at www.youngafricaworks.org.

The full Young Africa Works Summit agenda and list of speakers can be found here.

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About The MasterCard Foundation

The MasterCard Foundation works with visionary organizations to provide greater access to education, skills training, and financial services for people living in poverty, primarily in Africa. As one of the largest private foundations, its work is guided by its mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion to create an inclusive and equitable world. Based in Toronto, Canada, its independence was established by Mastercard when the Foundation was created in 2006. For more information and to sign up for the Foundation’s newsletter, please visit www.mastercardfdn.org. Follow the Foundation at @MastercardFdn on Twitter.

 About The MasterCard Foundation’s Youth Livelihoods Program

The Youth Livelihoods Program seeks to improve the capacity of young men and women to transition to jobs or create businesses through a holistic approach which combines market-relevant skills training, mentorship, and appropriate financial services. Through our partnerships, our program is supporting innovative models that help young people transition out of poverty and into stable livelihoods. Since 2010, the Foundation has committed $US402 million to 37 multi-year projects across 19 countries in Africa. More than 1.8 million young people have been reached through the Youth Livelihoods program.

For more information, please contact:

Isabelle Bourgeault-Tassé
Manager, Media Relations
m: +1 647 535 3681
e: ibourgeault-tasse@mastercardfdn.org

Faith Mwangi
Consultant, africapractice
m: +254 (0) 723 596 365
e: fmwangi@africapractice.com

Infographic: Youth Driving Agricultural Transformation

Africa is the world’s most youthful continent. Each year, over 11 million young Africans are entering the job market — but not the workforce. Today, the continent is facing a double employment crisis: both a lack of jobs for youth, and an increasing number of young people in need of work.

Agriculture, the largest sector of employment in Africa, promises opportunities for job growth and economic prosperity. But transforming in into a modern, sustainable and profitable sector will require overcoming constraints that stifle competitiveness and growth.

Youth are at the forefront of championing the innovative technological, gender-aware, and climate-smart approaches that will help grow and modernize agriculture. This further demonstrates how engaged and committed youth are to bringing about change.

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Press Release: The MasterCard Foundation’s Young Africa Works Summit Puts Youth at Centre of Green Revolution

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Summit presents youth as drivers of Africa’s agricultural transformation and employment

Kigali, Rwanda, January 23, 2017 – More than 300 global and African thought leaders and youth agripreneurs will come together for The MasterCard Foundation’s second Young Africa Works Summit on February 16-17 in Kigali, Rwanda. The event will spark new thinking on how Africa’s growing youth population can transform the agricultural sector. Fifty young people will also attend to share their perspectives on employment and self-employment in this sector.

“Africa is home to the world’s youngest population with enormous potential to improve agricultural productivity and make the sector a viable source of employment for youth across the continent,” says Ann Miles, Director of Financial Inclusion and Youth Livelihoods, The MasterCard Foundation. “The 2017 Summit will highlight the contributions being made by young people to transform the agricultural sector from subsistence farming to a modern, competitive, sustainable, and equitable business.”

With 11 million young Africans entering the job market annually and the rapid expansion of the continent’s agricultural sector, young people are driving the modernization of agriculture through the use of innovative technologies and production systems. The need for agricultural transformation on the continent, however, has never been more pressing. The increasing severity of climate change is already amplifying existing stress on water availability and food security in many African countries. And a growing youth population means this group will be particularly vulnerable. Despite economic growth over the last 10 years, the continent has yet to experience the levels of agricultural productivity that historically paved the way to modernization and industrialization of middle and high-income countries. The agricultural sector, already the largest sector for employment in Africa, is expected to create eight million stable jobs by 2020 and offers tremendous promise for catalyzing prosperity and creating sustainable livelihoods for young people.

“Agricultural transformation is a clarion call for us, the youth of Africa,” says Pilirani Khoza, Founder of Bunda Female Students Organisation at Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources. “For decades, agriculture has continued to operate using the same static methods and technologies adopted by our forefathers. We must adopt the new technologies that are available to us. Youth are technological doers and thinkers, they are energetic and hungry for knowledge and they should be actively involved in transforming Africa.”

Highlights of the Summit include:

  • Keynote address by Her Excellency, Rhoda Peace Tumisiime, Commissioner of Rural Economy and Agriculture, African Union.

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  • Appearances by Agnes Kalibata, President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA); Lindiwe Majele Sibanda, CEO and Head of Mission at the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN); Eric Kaduru, Founder an CEO of KadAfrica; Frank Altman, President and CEO of the Community Reinvestment Fund; and Simon Winter, Senior Vice President of Development at TechnoServe and Senior Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School of Government.
  • Youth keynote addresses featuring Brian Bosire, founder of Ujuzikilimo; Pilirani Khosa, founder of Bunda Female Students Organisation; Laetitia Mukungu, founder of the Africa Rabbit Centre; Rita Kimani, Co-founder and CEO, FarmDrive; and Jean Bosco Nzeyimana, founder of Habona Ltd.
  • A televised panel on “Setting the Stage for Agricultural Transformation” moderated by CNBC Africa anchor Nozipho Mbanjwa.
  • The release of The MasterCard Foundation’s Invisible Lives: Understanding Youth Livelihoods in Africa report, detailing the results of a 12-month study of youth employment in Ghana and Uganda.

The full Young Africa Works Summit agenda and list of speakers can be found here.

 

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About The MasterCard Foundation

The MasterCard Foundation works with visionary organizations to provide greater access to education, skills training, and financial services for people living in poverty, primarily in Africa. As one of the largest private foundations, its work is guided by its mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion to create an inclusive and equitable world. Based in Toronto, Canada, its independence was established by MasterCard when the Foundation was created in 2006. For more information and to sign up for the Foundation’s newsletter, please visit www.mastercardfdn.org. Follow the Foundation at @MastercardFdn on Twitter.

About The MasterCard Foundation’s Youth Livelihoods Program

The Youth Livelihoods Program seeks to improve the capacity of young men and women to transition to jobs or create businesses through a holistic approach which combines market-relevant skills training, mentorship, and appropriate financial services. Through our partnerships, our program is supporting innovative models that help young people transition out of poverty and into stable livelihoods. Since 2010, the Foundation has committed $US402 million to 37 multi-year projects across 19 countries in Africa. More than 1.8 million young people have been reached through the Youth Livelihoods program.

For more information, please contact:

Isabelle Bourgeault-Tassé
Manager, Media Relations
m: +1 647 535 3681
e: ibourgeault-tasse@mastercardfdn.org

Faith Mwangi
Consultant, africapractice
m: +254 (0) 723 596 365
e: fmwangi@africapractice.com

Press Release: The MasterCard Foundation Research Shows How African Youth Navigate Risk to Survive

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THE MASTERCARD FOUNDATION RESEARCH SHOWS HOW AFRICAN YOUTH NAVIGATE RISK TO SURVIVE

Hundreds gather at the inaugural Young Africa Works Summit to address youth unemployment and opportunities within the agricultural sector

 Cape Town, South Africa, October 29, 2015 — The MasterCard Foundation today released preliminary findings from innovative research conducted over the past six months into youth employment behaviours in Africa, where 600 million people are under the age of 25 and 72 percent of its youth live on less than US$2 per day. The Youth Livelihoods Diaries research highlights the extraordinary lengths that young people go to as they try to achieve sustainable livelihoods.

“There is a distinct lack of research into the daily lives of African youth as they seek secure, safe and better paid work,” said Ann Miles, Director of Programs, Financial Inclusion & Youth Livelihoods at the Foundation. “The agricultural sector is set to create eight million stable jobs by 2020 and up to 14 million if the sector is accelerated. We believe it has to feature prominently in development plans for the continent if we hope to achieve a prosperous future for young Africans.”

Solutions for accessing employment and micro-business opportunities within the agriculture value chain are a main topic at the The MasterCard Foundation’s Young Africa Works Summit taking place in Cape Town on October 29-30. This inaugural event is bringing together hundreds of experts, practitioners, young people and policymakers to discuss practical solutions to address youth unemployment on the continent. The Summit will explore strategies and solutions to enable young people to transition to more secure employment, focusing on the agricultural value chain as a prime source of opportunity. It will also provide a space to cultivate fresh ideas, partnerships and networks. More than 50 young people will be in attendance to share their perspectives in relation to employment or self-employment in this sector.

Preliminary findings of the Youth Livelihoods Diaries research project indicate that:

  • Young people in Africa need to have multiple jobs to survive. Although many of them pursue various micro-business ideas, they often find themselves also having to work in agriculture (sometimes just for household consumption). This experience causes many not to consider agriculture as a viable profession.
  • More than 50 percent of young people are able to save money. The majority are saving cash at home rather than using a bank account.
  • Young people are increasingly using technology, particularly mobile phones. Although this provides new opportunities, it also presents costs.
  • Information about jobs and skills acquisitions is seen as the greatest need for research participants.

In 2016, the Foundation will publish a comprehensive report that fully explores the data findings and patterns. To date, it has committed more than $US300 million to rural and agricultural initiatives that increase access to financial services and prepare young people for employment and/or entrepreneurship opportunities in Africa.

To follow the conversation at the Young Africa Works Summit, follow the Foundation on Twitter @MCFoundation and the event hashtag: #YAW2015. Summit materials can be found at www.youngafricaworks.org

 

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About The MasterCard Foundation

The MasterCard Foundation works with visionary organizations to provide greater access to education, skills training and financial services for people living in poverty, primarily in Africa. As one of the largest, independent foundations, its work is guided by its mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion in order to alleviate poverty. Based in Toronto, Canada, its independence was established by MasterCard when the Foundation was created in 2006. For more information, please visit www.mastercardfdn.org or follow us on Twitter @MCFoundation.

 

About The MasterCard Foundation’s Youth Livelihoods Program

The Youth Livelihoods Program seeks to improve the capacity of young men and women to transition to jobs or create businesses through a holistic approach which combines market-relevant skills training, mentorship and appropriate financial services. Through our partnerships, our program is supporting innovative models that help young people transition out of poverty and into stable livelihoods. Since 2010, the Foundation has committed $US291 million to 29 multi-year projects across 16 countries in Africa. More than 455,000 young people have been reached through the Youth Livelihoods program.

 

For more information, please contact:

Kristy Tomkinson

Communications Associate

The MasterCard Foundation

ktomkinson@mastercardfdn.org

+1-416-214-1426

Our Story

The MasterCard Foundation works with visionary organizations to provide greater access to education, skills training and financial services for people living in poverty, primarily in Sub-Saharan Africa. As one of the largest, independent foundations, its work is guided by its mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion in order to alleviate poverty. Based in Toronto, Canada, its independence was established by MasterCard when the Foundation was created in 2006.

The Foundation’s programs have reached more than 8.4 million people in 58 countries. Our funding and partnerships are concentrated in 24 African countries and provide a combination of skills-building, education, employment and access to financial services. The continent is home to the world’s youngest population, seven of the world’s 10 fastest growing economies, and an emerging movement of dynamic entrepreneurs. The world is looking at Africa afresh.

We contribute to the new story of an inclusive, more equitable Africa. We encourage collaboration and network-building among our partners so that proven models and approaches can be scaled. We believe this will allow people to create their own pathways out of poverty.

 Our Focus on Agriculture

We believe that agriculture holds tremendous promise for Africa’s social and economic growth. The continent is home to around 600 million young people under the age of 25 and holds half of the world’s uncultivated arable land. [1]

Agriculture is set to create eight million stable jobs in Africa by 2020, but could potentially add another six million if the continent accelerates its development of this sector. [2] With a combination of investment, innovation and ingenuity, agriculture can become a driving force that solves some of the biggest problems the continent faces – food insecurity, unemployment and inequitable economic growth.

Within our three program areas, Financial Inclusion, Education & Learning and Youth Livelihoods, the Foundation has committed more than US$300 million to improve agricultural productivity,
connect rural youth to employment and increase access to financial services for smallholder farmers.

Our Approach to Youth Livelihoods

The MasterCard Foundation is led by the belief that young people can realize their full potential and improve their livelihoods if they have access to the right skills and tools. The Youth Livelihoods Program is expanding innovative models that support young people so they can transition out of poverty and into sustainable livelihoods.

Our Youth Livelihoods projects focus on economically disadvantaged youth between the ages of 15-24 who are out of school and either unemployed or underemployed. We work with partner organizations to prepare young people for employment or entrepreneurship in agriculture using a holistic approach that offers a combination of technical and transferable skills development, business management skills training and support, internships and/or apprenticeships and access to appropriate financial services.

For more information, please visit www.mastercardfdn.org or follow us on Twitter @MCFoundation.

[1] UN Population Database.

[2] Fine, David, et al. (2012). Africa at Work. McKinsey Global Institute.

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