Future Forward: Innovations for Youth Employment in Africa
Something extraordinary is happening in Africa - a spirit of entrepreneurship is emerging. Africa’s economy is growing at a rapid pace, and its young population will require a new set of skills to take full advantage of the continent’s potential. However, young entrepreneurs face many challenges, including limited access to finance and business support services, unreliable technology, and a host of bureaucratic obstacles.
This article describes the partnership between The MasterCard Foundation and Ashoka, which aims to increase youth employment levels, particularly in Africa, by connecting young people to the education and skills training they need to find jobs. Recognizing entrepreneurship as an important force for job creation and economic growth in Africa, the partnership developed the Future Forward: Innovations for Youth Employment in Africa program. The program identifies social entrepreneurs, recognized as Ashoka Fellows, and provides them with training, financial and technological resources, and a network in which they can share their work, enabling them to develop their ideas and create jobs for young people.
This article explores how this innovative model was developed, the insights of the program’s first six Fellows, and what both organizations are hoping to learn from their work together.