Making STRYDEs: How the MasterCard Foundation Is Helping African Youth Boost Their Income

The MasterCard Foundation has been ramping up its efforts to increase income and economic opportunities for young people in Africa for a while now. Part of that effort includes a $25.9 million commitment, made in conjunction with TechnoServe, to boost young people living in rural East Africa.

The MasterCard Foundation has partnered with TechnoServe, a company that works with people in developing countries to help build competitive businesses in both industry and agriculture, to expand the Strengthening Rural Youth Development through Enterprises, or STRYDE, program in East Africa. The expanded program, dubbed STRYDE 2.0, focuses on providing job skills development programs to help young people succeed in small business, agriculture, and secure formal jobs.

The MasterCard Foundation and TechnoServe are building on the success of the first STRYDE program established in 2011. This year, the program not only met, but exceeded its original target training 15,000 young people. As a result, STRYDE has helped to increase young people’s incomes by an average of 233 percent and grow their savings sevenfold as compared to before the kids began the program.

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The 2.0 version of the program will have a heavy focus on training and mentoring young men and women in agribusiness and personal finance. STRYDE 2.0 also has the goal of reaching at least three times as many young people as the initial program. During the initial implementation of STRYDE 2.0, the MasterCard Foundation and TechnoServe plan to work in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda.

The MasterCard Foundation has been conducting philanthropic work in Africa for a number of years concentrating on financial inclusion and education efforts. The foundation has pledged $500 million to its Scholars Program, which aims to help young Africans gain access to quality education at both the secondary and post-secondary levels.

Its STRYDE work is in the same vein as the MasterCard Foundation's scholars program, but with a small twist. STRYDE is addressing three main challenges in rural Africa: engaging the otherwise unengaged young people ages 15 to 24; bringing the average age of African farmers down from 60; and involving young people in agriculture, with an eye toward improving food security.

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