With a focus on supporting the growth and development of women entrepreneurs in Africa, Mastercard is partnering with three non-government organisations to roll out programmes in Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa to empower hundreds of women through financial literacy training and mentorship.
This comes in celebration of the annual International Women’s Day, a global celebration of women’s contributions to the world’s social, economic, cultural and political progress. These partnerships include Junior Achievement South Africa (JA South Africa), Injaz in Egypt and Youth for Technology Foundation (YTF) in Nigeria.
(TOP: Nigeria’s YTF, one of the NGOs supported by Mastercard).
Supporting these female entrepreneurs is vital to their sustained growth, as they become self-sufficient and better able to provide for themselves and their families. This has a positive impact on their immediate community as well, with knowledge transfer and employment opportunities being created.
The importance becomes even more evident when you consider that Africa has the world’s highest rate of working poverty – people who are employed but earning less than US$2 a day. Additionally, according to the World Bank Africa’s youth population is expected to grow by 42.5 million by 2020.
Partnerships that work
In South Africa, Mastercard has extended its support of the JA South Africa Youth Enterprise Development Programme that targets women aged 18 to 35 years who have finished school, and want to start or grow their own business.
Kicking-off at various community centres around Gauteng, Western Cape and Limpopo in early 2017, 260 applicants have been selected to take part in a 20-week programme that aims to empower women to pursue entrepreneurial ventures of their own.
By participating in three hour theoretical and practical sessions two afternoons a week, the budding entrepreneurs will focus on business theory, market research, financial and business management, sales and marketing, as well as the basic steps of computer literacy.
In Egypt, Mastercard and INJAZ have officially initiated the Mastercard Women’s Entrepreneurship Programme aiming at supporting young female entrepreneurs. The programme, which conforms to declaring 2017 a ‘year of the Egyptian women’, empowers young Egyptian females to pursue their dreams, establish their financial independence and launch and grow their own businesses by providing them with the necessary business skills, trainings and mentorships.
Twenty teams of Egyptian women aged between 21 and 27 over an eight month period will be empowered to pursue their dreams and establish their financial independence. Trainings will include planning and review of establishing a business model.
With women making up almost 50 percent of the population in Egypt, and according to the CAPMAS study they are the head of almost 18 percent of households but only constitute less than a quarter of the country’s labour force. This enforces the idea of how empowering women in Egypt by helping them start their own businesses can boost the economy as a whole. With an unemployment rate of 12.5 percent, small and medium enterprises are a vital catalyst for economic growth.
In Nigeria, the most populated country in Africa, Mastercard has partnered with YTF to continue efforts to improve the lives of women through financial literacy, technology and skills-enhancement training. The partnership includes the training and mentorship of 150 apprentices, talented young women who are now working for female business owners who have previously gone through or are currently going through the YTF programme. This will create a ripple effect that will impact generations of women in Nigeria. To date, the partnership has impacted over 11,000 Nigerian women entrepreneurs across 14 states.
Stories of hope and resilience
The impact being made through the collaboration between Mastercard and YTF is evident by the stories of women in Nigeria empowering themselves and their families. Eucharia, a 36 year old proud mother of four, started her tiling and building materials supply business Tokaf Investments in what is a typically male-dominated industry. Another challenge was an over-sized and under-used warehouse that served as more of a liability than an asset. The training she received enabled her to totally re-brand her business and grow it by 60% using mobile technology to engage with her customers. Euchaira has cut costs significantly and created growth that allows her to support her family, and also help mentor young girls in her community.
Partnerships across the continent, such as those established by Mastercard, will go a long way in securing the future of women as they establish themselves as business owners. Women entrepreneurs will have a dramatic impact on the growth of economies across Africa, and should not be underestimated.