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Press Release August 6 2014

The MasterCard Foundation Invests in the Future of Africa’s Women Leaders

WASHINGTON, DC, August 6, 2014 – The MasterCard Foundation today announced that nearly 6000 of the 15,000 students it has pledged to support with The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program will be enrolled in high school and university by December 2014.  The Program will have 5,946 bright young women and men, predominantly from Africa, enrolled by the end of the year.  By the end of the 10-year initiative, 75 percent of the Scholars will be girls and young women.  This milestone was announced as Reeta Roy, President and CEO of the Foundation, joined the first spouses gathered at the US-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, DC, to celebrate women’s leadership in Africa.

At a time when global investments in education have dropped by 10 percent over the last two years, putting the achievement of existing and future education goals at risk – particularly for young women and girls – the $500 million, 10-year Scholars Program inspires young people to lead change through education and offers holistic financial, social academic and leadership development support, creating pathways for their transitions to jobs, entrepreneurial activities or further education.

“We are currently supporting 2,440 girls and young women in their pursuit of a high school and university education and this number will continue to grow,” said Reeta Roy.  “These young women have shown exceptional leadership qualities – girls like 13-year old Namara, supported by our partner BRAC in Uganda, who wants to be a doctor and who believes that ‘you build your own future,’ or Monica, supported by Camfed, who aspires to be Ghana’s first woman president.”

Young women in Sub-Saharan Africa also face significant barriers to attaining positions of leadership.  A forthcoming survey commissioned by The MasterCard Foundation examined young women’s transformative leadership in Sub-Saharan Africa, exposing the dearth of initiatives that support these young women as they seek to explore their potential as leaders.  Findings further showed that they experience the “double burden” of gender and youth, which frequently prevents them from realizing their full potential. Known for its holistic approach to education, the organization plans to further prioritize young women, tailoring new programs and training that will support them as they work towards becoming Africa’s next-generation of leaders.

Reeta Roy and Ann Cotton, Founder and President of Camfed International, presented Michelle Obama and Laura Bush of the United States of America and Lordina Dramani Mahama of Ghana, with copies of “When you educate a girl, everything changes”, a book which profiles Camfed students in Ghana. A digital version of the book can be found at

The Foundation is deeply committed to ensuring that, as Africa rises, so too do the continent’s young people. It works to ensure that Africa’s 600 million youth can harness their knowledge and skills to lead change in their families and communities and contribute to meaningful transformation across the continent.

Follow the conversation on education on Twitter (#InvestInWomen), Facebook and LinkedIn.


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About The MasterCard Foundation

The MasterCard Foundation is an independent, global organization based in Toronto, Canada, with more than $9 billion in assets. Through collaboration with partner organizations in 46 countries, it is creating opportunities for all people to learn and prosper. The Foundation’s programs promote financial inclusion and advance youth learning, mostly in Africa. Established in 2006 through the generosity of MasterCard Worldwide when it became a public company, the Foundation is a separate and independent entity. The policies, operations and funding decisions of the Foundation are determined by its own Board of Directors and President and CEO. For more information on the Foundation, please visit


About The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program

The Scholars Program provides academically talented yet financially disadvantaged young people, particularly from Africa, with access to quality and relevant secondary and university education. Students selected for the Program receive a holistic set of financial, social, and academic supports throughout their education and during their post-graduate transitions. The Program consists of a global network of education institutions and non-profit organizations, who together believe that education is a catalyst for social and economic betterment. The Program aims to educate 15,000 young people, and enable them to contribute to the economic growth and social of development in their countries of origin. For more details, please visit


For more information, please contact:


Isabelle Bourgeault-Tassé
Communications Manager


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