TECHNOSERVE & THE MASTERCARD FOUNDATION PARTNER TO CONNECT RURAL YOUTH TO VALUABLE ENTREPRENEURSHIP OPPORTUNITIES

TechnoServe and The MasterCard Foundation are partnering on an $11.5 million, four-year program to help rural young women and men in East Africa transition to economic independence. The Strengthening Rural Youth Development through Enterprise (STRYDE) program will deliver a comprehensive package of services such as skills training, business development and mentoring to young people ages 18 to 30 in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda. The program aims to equip 15,000 rural youth with the skills and knowledge to capitalize on economic opportunities and increase their incomes. As a result, the program plans to indirectly benefit more than 67,000 family members.

Youth unemployment is a major problem in the three target countries, especially in rural areas. Many young people see farming as a last resort, and formal employment is difficult to find. Growing numbers of rural youth are migrating to urban areas. Those who stay often lack the skills and knowledge to capitalize on the opportunities available to them.

“It’s imperative that we focus on opportunities for youth in order to ensure a stable and prosperous future for the region,” said TechnoServe President and CEO Bruce McNamer. “With the right support, young people can identify and capitalize on opportunities that will improve their livelihoods and strengthen rural industries.”

STRYDE draws on TechnoServe’s experience in both developing agricultural industries and promoting entrepreneurship. Agriculture in East Africa is a significant and growing sector of the economy and has the potential to create sustainable employment and income opportunities both on- and off-farm. Through this program, young people will learn about these opportunities and gain the market-ready skills to benefit from this demand.

Participants in this program will take part in a three-month training program to develop life, entrepreneurship and career skills, and they will receive an additional nine months of mentorship and counseling from a youth trainer. Participants also will gain practical business exposure through an experiential business exercise. Young women and men will have the opportunity to participate in program-sponsored business plan competitions and local job fairs featuring community businesses. The knowledge they gain from STRYDE will help them to identify the best economic opportunity for their skills and interests.

“Agriculture in East Africa is a significant and growing sector of the economy and has the potential to create sustainable employment especially for young people in rural communities,” said Reeta Roy, President and CEO of The MasterCard Foundation. “This project will provide young people with skills and connect them to opportunities to participate in the economy.”

This program aligns with The MasterCard Foundation’s Youth Learning Strategy to promote employability skills and entrepreneurship for young people. The STRYDE program is The Foundation’s first partnership in agriculture in East Africa.

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About TechnoServe

TechnoServe empowers people in the developing world to build businesses that break the cycle of poverty. A growing enterprise generates jobs and creates other income opportunities for poor people, enabling them to improve their lives and secure a better future for their families. Since its founding in 1968, the U.S.-based nonprofit has helped to create or expand thousands of businesses, benefiting millions of people in more than 40 countries. The Financial Times has rated TechnoServe one of the top five NGOs for corporate partnerships. TechnoServe’s corporate partners include Cargill, The Coca-Cola Company, General Mills, J.P. Morgan, Nestle-Nespresso, Olam International, Peet’s Coffee & Tea and Unilever, among others. Charity Navigator has awarded its highest Four Star ranking to TechnoServe for five straight years. http://www.technoserve.org

About The MasterCard Foundation

The MasterCard Foundation advances microfinance and youth learning to promote financial inclusion and prosperity. Through collaboration with committed partners in 48 countries, The MasterCard Foundation is helping people living in poverty to access opportunities to learn and prosper. An independent, private foundation based in Toronto, Canada, the Foundation was established through the generosity of MasterCard Worldwide at the time of the company’s initial public offering in 2006. http://www.themastercardfdn.org

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