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 or follow us on Twitter @MCFoundation.

[1] UN Population Database.

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

Young Africa Works 2015

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