Thirteen Mastercard Foundation Scholars at USIU-Africa selected as winners of the 2023 Social Venture Challenge

By Brenda Odhiambo

Bottom row from L-R: Titus Ayieko, Lenora Kelen, Lilliane Ashimwe, Virginia Wanjiku, Dorcus Kwagalakwe, Mercy Mulenga, Silas Ooko.
Top row from L-R: Samson Kahindi, Oladayo Olatunji, Pride Nyando, Abdur-Rahman Adeniji, Isaac Wandeto.
Caption: The thirteen Mastercard Foundation Scholars and winners of the 2023 Social Venture Challenge which was held from September 16-17 in Nairobi. The Challenge is part of the Mastercard Foundation’s annual Baobab Summit. Photos: Erick Macharia.

Thirteen Mastercard Foundation Scholars at USIU-Africa have been selected as winners of the 2023 Social Venture Challenge that the Mastercard Foundation recently hosted as part of the annual Baobab Summit, held at the Windsor Hotel in Nairobi.

The Social Venture Challenge, a collaboration between the Mastercard Foundation and the Resolution Project, is an initiative designed to identify young leaders focused on making a difference in their communities and equip them with the resources to implement their ideas through innovative social entrepreneurship.

A total of seven projects from the winning pool of 13 Mastercard Foundation Scholars were shortlisted for this year’s competition, with six projects eventually emerging as the winners of this year’s Challenge, marking the first win for USIU-Africa in the Challenge. The six projects will receive a total of $26,000 to support their initiatives across Inclusion, Agriculture, Entrepreneurship, and Clean Eco-Fuel.

Linet Aguko, Program Director of the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at USIU-Africa, highlighted the importance of projects and opportunities such as the Social Venture Challenge for Mastercard Foundation Scholars.

“Congratulations to our Mastercard Foundation Scholars who have emerged as the winners of the 2023 Social Venture Challenge. These projects are a reminder that positive change and impact can start with the vision, determination, and a commitment to making the world a better place, one community at a time,” she said.

“The execution of these projects will give our Mastercard Foundation Scholars the opportunity to refine their leadership and entrepreneurial skills as they work towards driving lasting change in their communities,” she added.

For Rashid Wamela and Lenora Kellen, the team behind the MbuziBora initiative, empowering vulnerable widows and single mothers was their top priority when they conceived the project. Their initiative is among the six winning Social Venture Challenge projects.
“We wanted to create a sustainable economic empowerment model involving exotic goat rearing by widows and single mothers, which would ultimately propel them toward self-reliance and building their ability to fend for themselves and their families,” they said.

Since 2016, 267 Mastercard Foundation Scholars have won the Social Venture Challenge. In addition to funding, the Mastercard Foundation Scholars are also provided with mentorship and networking opportunities with global industry leaders. The 2023 winning projects are:

  • Poverty and Disability Initiative in Nigeria (PADIN) by Oladayo Olatunji, Samson Kahindi and Lilianne Ashimwe: The project aims to build three telemedicine centers in Karomajigi in Nigeria. The centers will provide consultations, diagnosis, and treatment recommendations.
  • Africa Potato Giants by Isaac Wandeto, Virginia Wanjiku and Mercy Mulenga: The project will empower farmers, transforming livelihoods through enhanced potato production.
  • MbuziBora by Rashid Wamela and Lenora Kellen: This project aims to empower widows and single mothers in Chebkube village, Bungoma County, Kenya, through exotic goat rearing.
  • Saki Youth Resource and Empowerment Center (SYREC) by Abdur-Rahman Adeniji: The center will increase access to higher education for students from underprivileged communities by providing them with tutorials and mentorship to ensure they get admitted into their desired programs.
  • Clean Eco-fuel by Titus Ayieko, Silas Ooko, and Pride Nyando: The venture will make clean eco-friendly fuel stones from sugarcane waste in Kisumu County.
  • Empower Her Initiative by Dorcus Kwagalakwe: The Empower Her Initiative will provide mentorship and guidance to young mothers and train them on vocational skills.

Social Media