Mastercard Foundation Young Africa Works

Every Nigerian parent’s dream is to have a graduate child/children. “Education is the key”, they say. This is based on the belief that to have a great job and make a decent living, one must be a university graduate. Each year, an average of 1.5M students register for JAMB. Consequently, over 1.8M graduates are churned outby the federal, state and private universities, without adding the colleges of education, polytechnics and other tertiary institutions.

Every Nigerian parent’s dream is to have a graduate child/children. “Education is the key”, they say. This is based on the belief that to have a great job and make a decent living, one must be a university graduate. Each year, an average of 1.5Mstudents register for JAMB. Consequently, over 1.8M graduates are churned outby the federal, state and private universities, without adding the colleges of education, polytechnics and other tertiary institutions. However, with the current employment rate at 35%, this does not hold good news for the Nigerian youth, who believe that they are qualified for a job after going through the rigorous training of becoming a graduate.

This low absorption rate of graduates has increased the number of Nigerian youths on the streets. A lot have moved on from seeking jobs to engaging in other vocations out of the eagerness to meet basic needs. But while some are doing well in their chosen alternative fields, not so many are that lucky, hence the high rate of unemployed youths.

The quest for employment for some is not just about making ends meet for those who have resorted to other means of livelihood. The search has driven so many into various choices which also includes leaving the country for any other place where there is a promise for a better life. As a result, some have fallen victim of human trafficking. For instance, last year, Nigeria took delivery of more than 1,000 citizens which comprised of both women and children that were trapped in Libya. Some of the returnees were in Libya’s detention centres for immigration offences, others were either rescued victims of human trafficking while others were irregular migrants on voluntary return. Some of these people were lured out due to frustrations.

When the issue of unemployment in Nigeria is tackled, this will revolutionize the economy of the country, starting with human capital improvement. This is why the MasterCard Young Africa Works (YAW) program was launched in 2019 under the mantra: Beta job, Beta life. The program is aimed at giving 10 million Nigerian youths access to work opportunities by 2030. Its scope covers the Nigerian youths within the Agriculture, Creative industry and Digital economy. The program seeks to reorient the Nigerian youths to see values in agriculture starting from planting to post-consumption and to see it as an avenue for other opportunities. The program is also designed to absorb those who are skilled but underemployed to leverage on their digital skills, adequately, to reach their target audience. The program’s ultimate purpose is targeted at providing youth empowerment, skill acquisition, supply chain strengthening, capacity building, socio-economic development and generating employment for up to 10 million young Nigerians, majorly women, by 2030.

Over the next 5 years, MasterCard Foundation will be leveraging the support and partnerships of various Implementing Partner Organization within the identified sectors to drive the initiative in states that have a predominantly high number of youths such as Lagos, Kano and Kaduna states. They will be connecting over 2million young Nigerians to opportunities by tapping into Nigeria’s entrepreneurship culture, sizable private sector, and widespread use of technology.

This initiative by the MasterCard Foundation is a deliberate move towards ending poverty, raising employment rate, empowering women to bring about a balance in economic power for women in Nigeria, thereby increasing their participation in national issues, and overall improvement of the Nigerian economy.

Preston Associates International Development is involved to monitor and evaluate the implementation process and generally assess the overall impact of the intervention. Our goal within the development sector is to provide evidence for improved human development outcomes through all various aspects of research.

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