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Thursday, September 16, 2021

FULL SPEECH: Launch of the Young Africa Works Programs by Mastercard

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Chair of the Mastercard Foundation Board of
Directors and Members of the Board,

Ms. Reeta Roy, President and CEO, Mastercard

Members of the Diplomatic Corps,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Permit me to start by welcoming you all to this very special event, which touches on issues that are very close to my heart and to the future of our nation, continent and the world. A warm welcome to Members of the MasterCard Foundation Board of Directors.

I thank you for co-creating this unique programme with us. I embrace you as our partners on this crucial journey; one which is brimming with possibilities and the potential to increase opportunities for our youth in terms of finding fulfilling and dignified jobs.

By joining us, you have added momentum to the quest for the realization of my Administration’s Agenda to harness the ingenuity and the resilience of our people, which fires our undying hope in tomorrow’s beauty and promise for Kenya.

Our youth are our nation’s greatest resource. As I travel across the country, I am inspired by the creativity, boldness and resilience of our young people as they use their talents and energies to innovate and forge a better tomorrow for themselves as well as Kenya as a whole.

Even as we acknowledge the strides we are making, we recognize that a lot more needs to be done. A significant number of our young people are unemployed or underemployed, and they are struggling to make ends meet in our fast-paced economy.

I am also aware that our young people face significant structural, financial or technical barriers that limit their access to jobs or entrepreneurship.

It is for this reason that my Administration is taking bold action to eliminate the barriers that prevent young people from reaching their full potential and opening up opportunities for gainful employment.

We are making steady progress and delivering monumental positive change in creating opportunities for all. In that regard, and to equip our young people with the necessary know-how, we have this year successfully transitioned to secondary school 100% of all pupils who sat for their end-of-primary-school examinations.

In response to our young entrepreneurs’ keen appetite for procurement opportunities, we rolled out the affirmative and preferential action programme – the Access to Government
Procurement Opportunities (AGPO) that has set aside 30% of government procurement opportunities for enterprises owned by youth, women and persons living with disability.

In addition, we have made significant gains in creating an enabling environment for job creation; which gives us the assurance that our labour will bear bountiful fruits.

We have also invested heavily in our transport, communication, energy and technology infrastructure; and we are at close to 100% universal mobile phone coverage, while 74% of Kenyans are connected to electricity.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Kenya has a strong and vibrant private sector. We are also located in the most dynamic economic region in the world, and Kenya plays an important leadership role in the region.

Indeed, on account of this comparative advantage, a number of global companies have established their continental or regional
headquarters in our country.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Socio-economic integration of the African people is the greatest task of our time and our
generation. Indeed, Kenya was the first country to ratify the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) Agreement which will provide a common marketplace for over 1 billion people in Africa and create enormous opportunities for our entrepreneurs and companies.

We have a strong platform to expand job opportunities for our young people. We are now seeking to unlock their potential; with this platform being an important avenue to allow them to transform their lives, the country and the world. The programme we are about to launch today will contribute significantly towards this goal in several ways.

Firstly, it will support TVETs to improve quality of content and instruction, provide 21st century employability skills and demand-driven training that is relevant to the labour market, and create pathways to work for graduates including internships and apprenticeships.

I am very pleased to note that the program builds on the excellent reforms that have been
undertaken by the Ministry of Education to make TVET more relevant and better aligned to the needs of our economy.

Secondly, the programme will build on the Ajira Digital Programme to provide work readiness training, link young people to digital enabled work and increase access to work opportunities in the digital economy. It will enable technologically-savvy Kenyan youth to take full advantage of our extensive technology platforms to create and connect to jobs, obtain accurate, relevant and timely labor market information and build a virtual support and mentorship ecosystem. Kenya is on the verge of a digital transformation and this programme will catalyze the creation of new and quality jobs across the entire country.

The third pillar of the programme will enhance the creation, growth, sustainability and productivity of over 200,000 Micro, Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (MSMEs). This will be achieved through a partnership between Equity Group and Equity Bank Foundation and Mastercard Foundation on one hand and KCB Group and KCB Foundation and Mastercard Foundation on the other. Together, these institutions will provide about 100 billion Kenya shillings in capital, business development services, and market linkages.

Those partners will also provide financial and digital literacy and entrepreneurship training to MSMEs to support owners to grow and sustain their businesses and to mentor other entrepreneurs in the network.

When small firms and entrepreneurs access financial services, they obtain the resources they require to grow, expand into new markets and opportunities, create jobs and establish inter-generational wealth.

The benefits then create a ripple effect which generates employment for others beyond the direct beneficiaries of the access to those financial services.

It is in this context that the two banking institutions are expected to create more than 2 million jobs through this programme over the next 5 years.

I wish to thank the Equity Group and Equity Bank Foundation and the KCB Group and KCB Foundation for their contribution to this programme. Both these institutions have committed to provide substantial funding from their own resources; for which we are grateful.

Over the five-year period, Mastercard Foundation will provide Ksh 10 billion to KCB Group against their contribution of Ksh 50 billion and Ksh 7.2 billion to Equity Group against their contribution of Ksh 32 billion.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
This is a public-private partnership at its very best. I encourage other partners to emulate Mastercard Foundation, KCB and Equity Bank who have joined hands with Government to build a secure future for our young people.

Through this and other initiatives, the sons and daughters of Kenya are boldly stepping into a new future in which their individual and collective contribution will transform Kenya, Africa and the world.

As I conclude, I wish to reiterate my commitment to the young people of Kenya. You are the most important agenda for me and my Administration because you are our future. We will continue to ensure that we level the playing field for you through education and training; and we will increase opportunities for you to be the very best of Kenya.

To maintain the momentum on job creation, I commit to host an annual Jobs Summit which will engage young people, partners and all stakeholders to take stock of progress and advance action to increase the quality and quantum of jobs available to our young people.

We stand determined to complete this monumental task within one generation.

Thank you and God Bless Kenya.

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