Save the Children, in partnership with The MasterCard Foundation, launches Youth in Action program

Unique $39.8 million initiative aims to tackle Africa's youth unemployment epidemic through opportunities in agriculture

TORONTO, Aug. 12, 2014 /CNW/ - While Africa is home to the world's youngest population, seven of the 10 fastest-growing global economies, and an emerging movement of entrepreneurs, the continent's unemployment rates remain alarming—especially among youth. To help tackle youth unemployment—currently at 60 per cent—and help Africa achieve its economic and social potential, Save the Children, in partnership with The MasterCard Foundation, has launched Youth in Action. This unique program combines education and entrepreneurial opportunities in agriculture for rural, out-of-school youth in five African countries—Burkina Faso, Egypt, Ethiopia, Malawi and Uganda.

"Agriculture has the potential to lead Africa's future economic growth while significantly reducing the continent's unemployment and under-employment rates," said Patricia Erb, President and CEO, Save the Children Canada. "Despite this, youth have shied away from a career in this sector. In fact, farmers in Africa are part of an aging demographic, with most currently in their 60s. Without youth involvement in agriculture, the continent's future is bleak."

Youth in Action is an evidence-based program model that takes each individual participant's personal situation into account, working with youth's families and communities to determine which path will create the most sustainable success. The program enhances participants' basic reading, writing and math skills, and provides them with meaningful vocational and entrepreneurial training—allowing them to enter and thrive in the agricultural sector. Youth in Action also aims to help youth understand and assess the potential of their marketable product within the agricultural value chain, while providing them with access to the products and tools they need to be successful. To create a sustainable and holistic program model, Youth in Action works with governments and private sector organizations and employers.

"The agricultural sector employs 65 per cent of Africa's workforce, but many young people still face a variety of barriers in securing meaningful employment in this sector," said Reeta Roy, President and CEO of The MasterCard Foundation. "We are excited about our partnership with Save the Children, which will develop market-relevant skills and training for rural, out-of-school youth to obtain employment opportunities across the continent. What makes this program unique is that it encourages young people to learn by doing and takes a youth-centred approach to ensure young people secure sustainable livelihoods."

Over the course of its duration, Youth in Action will work with approximately 40,000 youth in five African markets.

"We thank The MasterCard Foundation for its vision and leadership in recognizing and seizing the opportunity to ensure that Africa's future is a bright one," said Erb. "Save the Children is proud of this partnership and our role in Youth in Action."

Youth in Action participant videos:

Youth in Action participant photos:

Additional information on Youth in Action can be found at

About Save the Children
Save the Children is the world's leading independent organization for children, delivering programs and improving lives in over 120 countries worldwide. Working toward a world in which every child attains the right to survival, protection, development and participation, Save the Children's mission is to inspire breakthroughs in the way the world treats children and to achieve immediate and lasting change in their lives. Learn more at, @SaveChildrenCan and

About The MasterCard Foundation
The MasterCard Foundation is an independent, global organization based in Toronto, Canada, with more than $9 billion in assets. Through collaboration with partner organizations in 46 countries, it is creating opportunities for all people to learn and prosper. The Foundation's programs promote financial inclusion and advance youth learning, mostly in Africa. Established in 2006 through the generosity of MasterCard Worldwide when it became a public company, the Foundation is a separate and independent entity. The policies, operations and funding decisions of the Foundation are determined by its own Board of Directors and President and CEO. For more information on the Foundation, please visit

Image with caption: "Save the Children, in partnership with The MasterCard Foundation, launches Youth in Action program (CNW Group/Save the Children)". Image available at:

Image with caption: "Youth in Action participant, Sam, 18 (Kasese, Uganda) working in his family-owned field (CNW Group/Save the Children)". Image available at:

SOURCE: Save the Children

For further information: Kelly Olive, Veritas Communications, 416.640.4153/647.501.9152,

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