Mastercard and Hatua.net join forces to equip Kenya's disadvantaged youth with essential professional skills

(L-R) Faith Yiamato, Country Representative for Hatua.net, Getrude Obonyo and James Mwenda, Beneficiaries of the Hatua.net programme, and Shehryar Ali, Senior Vice President and Country Manager for East Africa and Indian Ocean Islands at Mastercard during the Hatua.net and Mastercard partnership launch event in Nairobi.

Mastercard and Hatua.net – an independent UK and US registered charity working to promote education and employment among youth in Kenya and Uganda – have joined hands to empower young people with the essential skills needed to thrive in today's competitive job market.

Primary school in Kenya and Uganda is free but secondary school fees, as well as the related costs, are most often not affordable for those living in slums. This means talented students are often unable to fulfil their full potential and make a difference to their communities and the wider world by continuing their education.

“Hatua”, meaning ‘the next step’ in Swahili, works to help break this cycle of deprivation. By working with primary schools in some of the most challenged areas of Nairobi and Kampala, and with secondary schools with a proven ability to place students in leading universities, Hatua.net sponsorships give students the opportunity to build a brighter future.

Since 2010, Hatua.net has helped more 500 students continue their education. All Hatua.net-sponsored children compete effectively at their high-ranking secondary schools and more than 90 per cent have been admitted directly into university.

Recognizing Hatua.net’s focus on identifying talented youngsters who may one day want to work in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) industries, Mastercard has committed $50,000, and co-created a dedicated program that includes internships, graduate programs, and real-world employment skill training at Mastercard.

“Our goal is to build both foundational knowledge and 21st-century skills to ensure that our youth have the necessary networks, tools, and solutions that can help them reach their potential and achieve career success. Through our focus on ‘doing well, by doing good’, this partnership with Hatua.net exemplifies our commitment to creating a more equitable and prosperous future for all,” said Shehryar Ali, Senior Vice President and Country Manager for East Africa and Indian Ocean Islands at Mastercard.

"At Hatua.net, we are working to take children out of the slums, give them an opportunity for an education, and ultimately enable them to then go back and uplift their entire communities. Partnerships with private sector partners such as Mastercard allows us to extend this mission even further. Whilst our primary focus is on children through school, with the opportunities presented by Mastercard, they can continue to shape their futures post-graduation and in the actual job market,” said a representative from Hatua.net.

As part of the collaboration, Mastercard will fund a number of scholarships to enable access to education and training opportunities. Furthermore, there will be two graduate program placements at Mastercard, providing an 18-month rotation program followed by the opportunity for a permanent role in the company, alongside internship placements.

Alongside this, a dedicated mentorship program, supported by Mastercard’s Talent Management Team, will deliver practical skills such as interview training, CV reviews and job application assistance, Microsoft Office application training, and communication skills. One-on-one mentorship will also be provided by members of the regional Mastercard team to help build confidence, encourage self-expression, and enhance financial acumen.

Statistics consistently underscore the importance of having the right skill set to secure meaningful employment. In Kenya, young people below the age of 29, mainly secondary school and college graduates, were the hardest hit by joblessness with the number of jobless persons standing at 13.5 per cent at the end of 2022. In the same breath, soft skills, education/training and hands-on experience were the top three requirements for employment in entry-level jobs in both the formal and informal sectors.

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