MasterCard Foundation supports financial services in Africa

The MasterCard Foundation and Bangladesh-based BRAC announced in November last year a $19.6 million programme to bring financial services to poor people in Uganda. As part of the programme, BRAC will explore the feasibility of becoming a regulated deposit-taking institution in Uganda, a role it has not yet played in Africa. Sixty-two per cent of Uganda’s population does not have access to financial services and the Ugandan government has made expanding financial services to the rural poor one of its top priorities.

The following month, MasterCard Foundation and the Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) announced the launch of Youth Invest, a $5 million programme to create financial services and education for youth in Morocco and Egypt. The five-year programme will enable microfinance institutions (MFIs) to develop and test innovative products, reaching approximately 50,000 people between the ages of 15 and 24, especially those living in rural areas. MEDA will partner with leading MFIs in both countries to study the needs of employed as well as unemployed youth, and to design appropriate financial products, such as savings for education or loans to start a small business. The programme will also provide services such as financial and business-related training to develop youth entrepreneurship skills.

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