Tuesday, July 29, 2014


WASHINGTON, D.C. – US President Barack Obama on Monday announced that the U.S will invest more than $38 million toward four regional Leadership Centers that will train thousands of Africa’s emerging leaders and foster connections, creativity, and collaboration in sectors critical to Africa’s growth and development.

The funds which will be channelled through US Agency for International Development (USAID) was more than matched by African and American companies and foundations, including a $10-million, five-year commitment by The MasterCard Foundation, a premier partner.

The President made the announcement during a town hall event for 500 Mandela Washington Fellows, a program for distinguished African youth that is part of the President’s Young African Leaders Initiative, or YALI.

The Centers will focus on engaging leaders between the ages of 18 and 35 from a variety of backgrounds and a diversity of experience and providing accessible leadership training, incubating organizations and entrepreneurship, and supporting professional connections among African leaders. 

Based in Ghana, Kenya, Senegal, and South Africa, each center will be run as a public-private partnership, capitalizing on the ingenuity and dynamism of the private sector and the programmatic and educational resources of USAID. Nine private sector partners and foundations are joining USAID in supporting the effort.

“The MasterCard Foundation is delighted to partner with USAID on the next stage of the Young African Leaders Initiative. YALI offers great promise for talented young men and women of Africa, and includes critical education, entrepreneurship and leadership development opportunities. We are proud to invest in this next generation of African leaders who are poised to drive change in their communities, countries and across the continent,” said Reeta Roy, President and CEO of The MasterCard Foundation.

Other contributers to the cause are,   

  • The Dow Chemical Company, which will shell out $3 million toward training facilities and equipment at the centers and $1 million in in-kind resources to develop leadership training, sector expertise, and mentoring programs for the centers.

• Atlas Mara: $25 million in loans for young entrepreneurs, financial training, and leadership development.
• Microsoft: $12.5 million in propriety business software and hardware.
• Intel Corporation: $5 million toward training in entrepreneurship basics and technology trends, as well as volunteer support and coaching.

• McKinsey Corporation: $1.5 million in dedicated consultants to assist with program design, as well as management support and access to McKinsey's Africa Knowledge and Research center.
• IBM: $500,000 in committed staff time to serve as volunteers at the centers.
• General Electric: program design, training and mentoring.
• Procter &​ ​G​amble​: leadership training.
• The Mara Foundation: networking mentorship program.

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