USIU-Africa formally commissions the inaugural cohort of scholars in the Mastercard foundation Scholars Program

The first cohort of Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program students attend the Awards Evening held to welcome them to USIU-Africa.

By Brenda Odhiambo, Taigu Muchiri and Laurie Armstrong

USIU-Africa formally welcomed the inaugural cohort of Mastercard Foundation Scholars, made up of 24 students drawn from across the country. This follows the announcement of a partnership between USIU-Africa and the Mastercard Foundation, which will see 1,000 high-performing students to receive quality education and leadership development over the next 10 years under the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program.

Through the Scholars Program, the students will receive holistic student support, including comprehensive scholarships, leadership development, and access to internships and industry-driven career services. Following the launch of the program, the University received 6,077 applications from hopeful Scholars across the country, from which the best 24 were selected.

Speaking during the ceremony, the Chancellor, Dr. Manu Chandaria started by thanking the Mastercard Foundation for selecting USIU-Africa as a partner in order to collectively achieve the goal of offering quality education to students. He called upon the Scholars to take advantage of this opportunity and become the best not only in the country but also in East Africa.

“I urge each one of you to embody the qualities of integrity, accountability, humility and the ability to serve your communities as you begin your journey here at USIU-Africa. These are the same values that have transformed this institution into a world class university,” he said.

The Vice Chancellor, Prof. Paul Zeleza noted that in addition to the partnership being a milestone in the University’s history, it also presents the University with an opportunity to continue moulding the futures of bright Scholars from the continent.

“All over the world, each nation’s greatest resource is its people, and there is no better way to invest in your people than through the provision of opportunities and resources like access to quality education to position them to compete on the global stage. I am pleased that USIU-Africa will have the opportunity to continue moulding some of the best and brightest minds from across the continent to advance Africa’s development,” he said.

According to a report by the African Development Bank, one of the reasons behind the low contribution of human capital to labour productivity in Africa is the mismatch between the skills and the education that the youth have, and the needs of the employers. The report further notes that one of the critical steps that countries on the continent can take to correct this is by integrating education and skill development strategies into development plans, and ensuring that youth develop critical intangible skills critical to being part of a high quality workforce.

This sentiment was echoed by Daniel Hailu, Regional Head, Southern and Eastern Africa at the Mastercard Foundation, who noted that now more than ever, there was a need to ensure that the youth were equipped with the right skills to create solutions to the challenges on the continent.

He also noted that Mastercard Foundation continued to make investments in education based on the positive impacts that its programs, including the Scholars Program, continue to have on the lives of the Scholars, their families, and their community.

“One of our key tenets is ensuring that we support academically talented students from disadvantaged communities to attend quality educational institutions and develop the knowledge and skills they need to join the next generation of ethical and transformative leaders. Our vision is that these young people will continue to make a lasting impact in their communities, and lead the transformation towards inclusive prosperity,” he added.

The Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program is an initiative to develop Africa’s next generation of leaders by giving students, whose talent and promise exceed their financial resources, an opportunity to complete their education. The Program is a growing commitment and to date, the Program has committed over USD 1 billion to supporting the education and leadership development of more than 37,000 young people.

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