Mastercard Foundation drives entrepreneurship among scholars

BY: Jessica Acheampong
The ‘Sua IT’ team with a facilitator after the competition in Kigali, Rwanda
The ‘Sua IT’ team with a facilitator after the competition in Kigali, Rwanda

About 32 young African entrepreneurs are to benefit from a fellowship to help them pursue their business ideas across the continent.

Powered by the Mastercard Foundation and the Resolution Project, the young entrepreneurs will receive seed funding, mentorship and access to a network of young global change makers to pursue impactful projects in their various communities.

The winners, which collectively represent 15 teams, emerged after the finals of the social venture challenge held in Kigali, the Capital of Rwanda earlier this month.

The Manager of Youth Engagement and Networks, Mastercard Foundation, Ms Ashley Collier, told the Graphic Business that the idea behind the challenge was to identify young people with ideas that would impact communities and provide the needed support system to help them actualise those ideas.

She said the Mastercard Foundation partnered the Resolution Project three years ago to enable them to reach out to young people and provide the needed support to help impact the continent.

“What we have found out was that so many young people have incredible ideas on how they want to change their communities and make an impact, but there are many barriers that they face in turning those ideas into actions.”


“A few of those barriers being access to funding to be able to start, access to mentorship, as well as the tools and resources to translate the ideas into something that will work,” she said in an interview.

While acknowledging the challenge of transforming ideas into workable solutions, she explained that the right tools and resources, when provided, could enable young people to drive development on the continent with their ideas.

“It is difficult being an entrepreneur and it requires you to have a number of skills and technology; although you might have a great idea, you would not have the tools that will help you translate the idea into something that will work,” she added.

The challenge

A collaboration between the Mastercard Foundation and The Resolution Project, the Resolution Social Venture Challenge provides a pathway to action for socially responsible young leaders who want to create change that matters in their communities.

It received 272 applications for the 2018 competition, with 71 contestants moving forward to the semi-final competition which was held in Kigali, Rwanda this month.

Out of the 71, the contest saw about 32 Mastercard Foundation Scholars winning the challenge, earning them a fellowship which include seed funding, mentorship and access to a network of young global change makers to pursue impactful projects in their communities.

Together, the scholars are pursuing impactful projects in Malawi, Gambia, Kenya, Zambia, South Africa, Ghana, Uganda, Lebanon, Sudan, Zimbabwe, Cameroun, Tanzania, Nigeria, and Somaliland.

In its first two years, the Foundation and the Resolution Project have offered 34 scholars working on 17 social ventures fellowships with seed funding, mentorship and the opportunity to pursue their aspirations and increase their appetite for leadership.

Winning social ventures are addressing a wide range of challenges scholars observed first-hand in their communities, including food security, access to sanitation, and young women’s access to reproductive health education.

Ghana represented

A team from Ghana, which also emerged winners after the contest was ‘Sua IT’ which is translated ‘Learn Information Technology (IT)’. ‘Sua IT’ is a social venture that seeks to advance computer literacy to schoolchildren in rural communities.

The scholars pursuing the project are Mr Richard Sewor, Ms Golda Afoakwa and Mr Douglas Amoo-Sargon who are currently studying at the Arizona State University (ASU) in the United States of America (USA).

In an interview from their USA base, the team explained that the project would use mobile Information and Communication Technology (ICT) learning units using a unique curriculum, learning materials and laptops which will be powered by generators to facilitate learning and skills development in ICT for children in rural communities in Ghana.

Explaining the rationale for taking part in the challenge, one of the team members, Mr Amoo-Sargon said as Mastercard foundation scholars, they were always looking for opportunities to give back to society and to also be identified as change agents.

Already, the team had established contacts with six headmasters who they would pilot their project with to advance the learning of IT in the country.