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Equity Group Foundation and The MasterCard Foundation Launch The Largest Secondary Education Scholarship Program in Kenya

Groundbreaking $50 million Wings to Fly partnership will enable 5,600 young Kenyans to complete secondary school

Nairobi, Kenya, January 24, 2011 – The MasterCard Foundation and Equity Group Foundation today announced a $50 million partnership that will provide secondary education scholarships and leadership development to 5,600 students in Kenya. The scholarships will cover tuition, books, uniforms and stipends for students who are academically gifted yet economically disadvantaged, enabling them to complete their secondary education. The program is also supported by UKaid. Wings to Fly was launched by Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki. The President was joined by Reeta Roy, President and CEO of The MasterCard Foundation and Dr. James Mwangi, CEO of Equity Bank and Chairman of Equity Group Foundation.

“The MasterCard Foundation and Equity Group Foundation Scholars Program will educate and inspire the next generation of Kenyan leaders at a time when we are building a new nation under a new constitution,” said Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki. “By investing in our young people, the Wings to Fly program will advance our Vision 2030 goals of economic and social progress of the country.”

As a result of Kenya’s Free Primary Education Policy, primary school enrolment in Kenya dramatically increased from 5.8 million in 2003 to 8.6 million in 2008. However, only 64 percent of primary students enter secondary school and even fewer graduate. The low secondary enrolment and completion rates are largely attributed to the costs of secondary education and the need for children from low-income households to work and help support their families. According to the World Bank, every year of secondary school completion translates into increased future wages. For girls, an extra year of schooling beyond the average boosts eventual wages by 10-20 percent.

“All young people deserve an opportunity to learn and prosper,” said Reeta Roy, President and CEO of The MasterCard Foundation. “This partnership expands access to secondary education, transforming the lives of thousands of young people and those of future generations.”

Recognizing the critical importance of secondary education, the launch of the program comes at a time when the first class of students who began primary school in 2003 is now entering secondary school. In addition to comprehensive secondary education support, the young scholars will also receive leadership training, career guidance and mentoring.

“The Wings to Fly program is helping talented young leaders achieve their potential to change Kenya’s future,” said Dr. James Mwangi, CEO of Equity Bank and Chairman of Equity Group Foundation. “The leadership training and mentorship will build students’ self-confidence, community involvement, and new skills that will propel them well beyond their secondary school education.” Dr. Mwangi also chairs the Vision 2030 Delivery Board, Kenya’s strategy to become a globally competitive middle‐income economy by 2030.

This national program builds upon Equity Bank’s extensive presence in Kenya and works with local communities to select eligible students.

Recognizing the power of Wings to Fly to open worlds of opportunity to young Kenyans, Ms. Roy and Dr. Mwangi called on other potential public and private partners to join with them to grow the program to reach even more young scholars.

About Wings to Fly

The MasterCard Foundation and Equity Group Foundation Scholars Program, Wings to Fly, will enable young people to complete secondary school and improve their prospects of attending higher education. This nine-year initiative provides comprehensive secondary school education and leadership training to 5,600 academically gifted yet economically disadvantaged young Kenyans. 

Students who ranked in the top 5th percentile in the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education examinations are screened based on criteria that defines social and economic vulnerability.  Finalists are selected through a transparent and community-owned interview process. In addition to a focus on academic excellence and achievement, the program provides mentoring and leadership development to help students succeed in secondary school and beyond.  

About The MasterCard Foundation

The MasterCard Foundation believes that people have the potential to transform their lives and to improve the lives of their families and communities. Through its collaboration with committed partners, The MasterCard Foundation is increasing access to microfinance and youth education, helping people living in poverty to learn and prosper.  The MasterCard Foundation has programs in 33 countries.

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

About Equity Group Foundation

Equity Group Foundation was established by Equity Bank, one of the top five banks in Kenya and the largest microfinance provider in East and Central Africa, to create the financial and operational infrastructure for social programs aimed at low-income populations. Its vision is to champion the social and economic transformation of the people of Africa. The foundation focuses on six key areas: education and leadership development, agriculture, entrepreneurship, health, innovations and environmental protection.  To learn more, visit www.equitybank.co.ke.

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