Mastercard Foundation Launches $2M Fund to Seed Young African Leaders’ Social Ventures


The Mastercard Foundation will over the next two years dedicate US$2M for a pilot project that will expand Mastercard Foundation Scholars’ capacity to exercise transformative leadership by putting their social and entrepreneurial ideas into action.

To lead successful social ventures, young leaders require financial support to kick-start promising ideas and bolster existing projects, that’s what Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program.

“We are compelled by the leadership of African youth and the vision they hold for the continent’s future,” said Shona Bezanson, Associate Director of the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program. “Whether it is providing quality education for refugee youth and children in Uganda, developing organic and cost-efficient fertilizers for low-income farmers in Zimbabwe, or creating a ‘Made in Africa’ brand that employs vulnerable artisans, Scholars are already activating their ideas for change with modest resources. We believe Scholars will seize this new opportunity to lead change in their communities.”

Universities and institutional partners included in the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program will receive funding towards these efforts, leading the design and delivery of the competitive fund in a manner that reflects local context. The Foundation will lead monitoring and evaluation activities to learn, evaluate, and determine how to extend and scale the opportunity within and beyond the Scholars Program.

Shantel Marekera, a Scholar at Arizona State University founded Little Dreamers Foundation, an organization that helps Zimbabwean girls attend pre-school in Harare’s Glen View 8 community. Founded by Kayiza Isma, a Scholar at Makerere University, Sparky Social Enterprise leverages a low-cost, efficient technology to addresses post-harvest losses and food insecurity in Uganda. 

Since 2016, the Mastercard Foundation has supported over 30 ventures such as Ghana’s Happy Home Eco-Sanitation Company, Zimbabwe’s Little Dreamers Foundation and Uganda’s Sparky Dehydrator.