Ecorys becomes the Impact Partner Organisation for the Mastercard Foundation's Young Africa Works strategy

Having the world’s youngest population, Africa is home to the most crucial asset to create a fully energised market. However, the continent is faced with a great mismatch between the number of youth entering the workforce each year and the number of opportunities available to them. Tackling the African youth unemployment challenge is a global priority for the world to attain and sustain global development.

Young Africa Works is the Mastercard Foundation’s strategy to enable 30 million young people, 70 percent of whom will be young women, to access dignified and fulfilling work by 2030. It is estimated that by 2030, Africa will be home to the world’s largest workforce, with 375 million young people entering the labour market. With the right skills, these young people will improve their lives and the lives of their communities, contributing to Africa’s overall competitiveness. Therefore, a key focus in the Mastercard Foundation’s strategy is to tackle existing gaps in access to finance and other crucial resources for the growth of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). SMEs are the driving force behind job creation on the African continent, and play a crucial role in the sustainable growth of its many divers economies. Over the next five years, the Mastercard Foundation will invest in Africa-focused investment mechanisms targeting growth-oriented SMEs in the Young Africa Works countries, as well as in the broader Sub-Saharan African region.

Under its Finance Initiatives, the Mastercard Foundation recently launched its first initiative, the Mastercard Foundation African Growth Fund (MFAGF). The MFAGF is a Fund-of-Funds initiative which will capacitate a wide variety of investment vehicles spread across 7 Sub-Saharan African countries to invest in promising SMEs. It also focuses on improving access to financial services, access to the national and international markets, and building capacity amongst young African entrepreneurs. A second Finance Initiative focusing on guarantee schemes for early-stage enterprises and start-ups is projected to take off the second half of 2023.

Ecorys and Palladium have recently been awarded a contract to become the Impact Partner Organisation to the Mastercard Foundation, specifically covering its Finance Initiatives. Through this partnership, our consortium will play a strategic advisory, assessment, and technical role through assisting the Mastercard Foundation’s Impact Team in achieving its most sustainable impact on youth unemployment. . Ecorys and Palladium have put together an expert team to provide a critical and constructive perspective to the initiatives that will emerge under the Young Africa Works strategy. A snapshot of the work our consortium will undertake as the Impact Partner Organisation include:

  1. Access and adapt an ecosystem map of the Finance for Development Landscape in Africa;
  2. Conduct an inception review of the MFAGF;
  3. Conduct annual impact reviews;
  4. Conduct data quality checks;
  5. Develop and manage a programme for identifying, engaging, training and mentoring Young Impact Associates;
  6. Provide independent ad hoc advice to the Impact Team and the Mastercard Foundation’s program managers to support the quality assurance of the monitoring systems impact measurement and management proposed and implemented by the partners.

The Partnership with the Mastercard Foundation kicked off in August 2022 with a partner coordination workshop in Nairobi, and is expected to run for at least 5 years. For more information, you can get in touch with Tahmina Shafique or Anja Willemsen. Please visit the Mastercard Foundation website for more information on the Young Africa Works strategy.

23 February 2023

3 minute read

Key Experts

Anja Willemsen


Tahmina Shafique

Sector leader