New initiative to empower rural youth in East Africa

STRYDE_program_will_deliver_a_comprehensive_package_of_services_to_the_rural_youthTechnoServe and The MasterCard Foundation have partnered on an US$11.5 million, four-year programme to help the rural youth of East Africa's transition to economic independence

The Strengthening Rural Youth Development through Enterprise (STRYDE) program will deliver a comprehensive package of services such as skills training, business development and mentoring to young people between the ages of 18 and 30 in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda. The programme aims to equip 15,000 rural youth with the skills and knowledge to capitalize on economic opportunities and increase their incomes. As a result, the program plans to indirectly benefit more than 67,000 family members.

TechnoServe president and chief executive officer Bruce McNamer said, “It is imperative that we focus on opportunities for youth in order to ensure a stable and prosperous future for the region. With the right support, young people can identify and capitalise on opportunities that will improve their livelihoods and strengthen rural industries.”

Youth unemployment is a major problem in the three target countries, especially in rural areas. Many young people see farming as a last resort, and formal employment is difficult to find. Growing numbers of rural youth are migrating to urban areas and those who stay often lack the skills and knowledge to capitalize on the opportunities available to them. STRYDE draws on TechnoServe's experience in both developing agricultural industries and promoting entrepreneurship.

Agriculture in East Africa is a significant and growing sector of the economy and has the potential to create sustainable employment and income opportunities both on and off farm. Through this programme, young people will learn about these opportunities and gain the market-ready skills to benefit from this demand.

Participants in this programme will take part in a three-month training program to develop life, entrepreneurship and career skills, and they will receive an additional nine months of mentorship and counseling from a youth trainer.

Participants will also gain practical business exposure through an experiential business exercise. Young women and men will have the opportunity to participate in programme-sponsored business plan competitions and local job fairs featuring community businesses. The knowledge they gain from STRYDE will help them to identify the best economic opportunity for their skills and interests.

“Agriculture in East Africa is a significant and growing sector of the economy and has the potential to create sustainable employment especially for young people in rural communities,” said Reeta Roy, president and chief executive officer of The MasterCard Foundation.

“This project will provide young people with skills and connect them to opportunities to participate in the economy.”

This programme aligns with The MasterCard Foundation's Youth Learning Strategy to promote employability skills and entrepreneurship for young people. The STRYDE program is The Foundation's first partnership in agriculture in East Africa.

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