Nairobi, April 28, 2011 – The MasterCard Foundation and Equity Group Foundation today joined with Honorable Uhuru Kenyatta, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, and Professor Njuguna Ndung’u, Governor of the Central Bank of Kenya, for the official launch of a national program to promote financial inclusion and entrepreneurship in Kenya. This $10.9 million program will provide financial education to 620,000 youth and women in Kenya over the next three years.
“This partnership is about financial inclusion,” said Reeta Roy, President and CEO of The MasterCard Foundation. “It will enable youth and women micro-entrepreneurs to access financial services and create economic opportunities for themselves.”
Nearly half of Kenya’s population of 38 million people lives on less than $2 a day. Forty percent of the population is unemployed and over 75 percent of those unemployed are youth. Young women face particular challenges with regards to accessing employment, finance and technical skills to run enterprises due to relatively low educational attainment and societal barriers.
This program will build financial capacity through a comprehensive 12-week financial education program – covering budgeting, savings, debt management, financial negotiations, and banking services. Participants will learn basic economic concepts and gain an understanding of how to use a range of financial services – such as savings, insurance and credit products. As part of this program, 7,500 participants will be selected for intensive entrepreneurship training and mentoring, and will receive practical coaching to expand their businesses.
“In order to become economically productive, people living in the lower income brackets require access to knowledge, supportive networks and financial services. This program delivers these critical tools and empowers people to change their own lives. Lessons learned will influence our bank and others to mobilize social change,” said Dr. James Mwangi, CEO of Equity Bank and Chairman of Equity Group Foundation. Dr. Mwangi also chairs the Delivery Board of Vision 2030 – Kenya’s strategy to become a middle?income country by 2030.
Equity Bank is making available up to $400 million in credit to participants who complete the program. To date, the program has trained 57,000 people across the country and 26,000 have received credit for their business plans.
Equity Group Foundation (EGF) was created to harness Equity Bank’s capabilities, infrastructure and reach, and to create a clear financial and operational separation for its social programs. EGF is the focal point for partnerships with Equity Bank on programs aimed at low-income populations. Its goal is to transform the socioeconomic status of people in Africa through initiatives in education and leadership development of young people, support of women and youth entrepreneurs, health promotion, and agriculture development. EGF’s strategy is to achieve impact by initiating new programs as well as manage and scale the bank’s current social programs.
The MasterCard Foundation advances microfinance and youth learning to promote financial inclusion and prosperity. Through collaboration with committed partners in 40 developing countries, The MasterCard Foundation is helping people living in poverty to access opportunities to learn and prosper.
An independent, private foundation based in Toronto, Canada, The MasterCard Foundation was established through the generosity of MasterCard Worldwide at the time of the company’s initial public offering in 2006. For more information, please visit www.mastercardfdn.org.
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