Heifer International today announced a five-year, US$18 million partnership with The MasterCard Foundation to design and implement a program that will equip 25,000 youth ages 15-24 with the skills necessary to start and run agriculture-related businesses.
The East Africa Youth Inclusion Program (EAYIP) will build upon the success of Heifer’s East Africa Dairy Development (EADD) project, which has improved dairy production and market access for more than 1 million farmers since its inception in 2008. The program will help provide employment and enterprise development opportunities specifically for youth in the dairy sector in Tanzania and Uganda.
The objectives of EAYIP are to:
The program is groundbreaking for Heifer International, as it is the organization’s first program to specifically target youth in agriculture at scale. By adapting Heifer’s values-based, holistic community development model to suit the specific needs of young women and men, EAYIP will support youth as they develop business ideas, navigate pathways for employment and pass on their knowledge, skills and resources to other youth in their communities.
“Young people in Africa often see careers in agriculture as outdated, unprofitable and arduous. We have to change not only the view, but the reality as well. We have to demonstrate that farming can provide an exceptionally dignified and modern way of life,” said Heifer President and CEO Pierre Ferrari.
“We’re excited to see how Heifer’s holistic approach to skills development, mentoring and financial inclusion will open up new opportunities – in dairy value chains and beyond – for thousands of economically disadvantaged young Tanzanians and Ugandans,” said Karen Moore, Program Manager, Youth Livelihoods at The MasterCard Foundation. “This new partnership will also build on Heifer’s extensive experience with supporting associations of smallholder farmers, to develop youth-led producer associations that will now have the opportunity to better engage in the dairy sector.”
The US$18 million investment from The MasterCard Foundation will be supplemented by additional funds from Heifer, including a US$1 million revolving loan fund for young women and men who successfully complete the full training and are ready to start or expand a business.
EAYIP also aligns with several of United Nations Sustainable Development goals, including No Poverty, Zero Hunger, Gender Equality, Decent Work and Economic Growth.