The nonprofit Heifer International is launching a five-year, US$18 million program in partnership with Mastercard Foundation to help 25,000 young people start small businesses or find jobs in the agricultural industry in East Africa.
By some estimates, more than half of Africa’s youth are unemployed, underemployed or inactive, the African Development Bank says, and this poses a serious challenge to social stability and economic growth.
Heifer and Mastercard Foundation will help address the issue with the “East Africa Youth Inclusion Program,” which will link youth with jobs and business opportunities in the dairy and agricultural industries in Uganda and Tanzania. The work could range from processing milk and providing veterinary services to repairing machinery and transporting products to dairy hubs.
The employment program, targeting youth between the ages of 15 and 24, will also link young entrepreneurs to financial institutions that will provide loans. Mentors will be available to help them with their businesses.
“Agriculture is a major industry in Africa, with tremendous potential to grow and employ the many young people looking for dignified work,” said Pierre Ferrari, president and CEO of Heifer, a Little Rock, Arkansas-based nonprofit working to end hunger and poverty with sustainable agriculture and entrepreneurship.
Karen Moore, program manager for Youth Livelihoods at the Toronto-based Mastercard Foundation, said, “Heifer has a proven track record in East Africa supporting smallholder farmers to increase their incomes through the East Africa Dairy Development program.”
The dairy program, launched in 2008, has improved production and market access for more than 1 million farmers in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.
Moore added, “We look forward to partnering with them to help young women and men acquire the skills and networks they need to find sustainable employment and entrepreneurship opportunities in dairy and related sectors.”
The US$18 million commitment from Mastercard Foundation will be supplemented by additional funds from Heifer, including a US$1 million revolving loan fund for young women and men who successfully complete the full training and are ready to start or expand a business.
Implementing partners include Youth Alive in Uganda and Restless Development and MIICO in Tanzania.
ABOUT HEIFER INTERNATIONAL
Heifer’s mission is to end hunger and poverty while caring for the Earth. For more than 70 years, we have provided livestock and environmentally sound agricultural training to improve the lives of those who struggle daily for reliable sources of food and income. We currently work in more than 25 countries, including the U.S., to help families and communities become self-reliant. Our goal is to help 4 million families achieve living incomes by 2020, which will allow them to feed their families daily; educate all their children; and have proper housing, water, hygiene and other essential resources. For information, visit Heifer.org, read our blog, follow us on Facebook, on Twitter or call 888.5HUNGER (888.548.6437).
ABOUT 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 International 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.