Kigali: Young African scholars contest  for Mastercard Foundation support

By Jean d’Amour Mugabo.

Young scholars  from 15 African countries are competing in the Mastercard Foundation’s Resolution Social Venture Challenge at the Baobab Summit in Kigali, Rwanda.

Bringing together more than 250 Scholars, the annual summit is underway in Kigali from Thursday and will end with the awarding ceremony on Saturday.

The Mastercard Foundation and The Resolution Project received 125 applications for the 2019 competition but 31 teams bringing together 65 scholars are now at the semi-final, according to Ashley Collier, Manager of Youth Engagement and Networks at Mastercard Foundation.

All contestants are undergraduate scholars pursuing their studies at different universities around the world under the Mastercard Foundation’s scholarships. Finalists of the fourth edition of the challenge include scholars who are pursuing impactful projects in Rwanda, Malawi, Gambia, Kenya, Zambia, South Africa, Ghana, Uganda, Lebanon, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Nigeria, and Somaliland.

Scholars explain their projects during the 2019 Social Venture Challenge in Kigali, Thursday

Winning teams earn a fellowship that includes seed funding amounting to $7,500 (about Rwf7 million), mentorship and access to a network of young global change-makers to pursue impactful projects in their communities.

Ms. Collier said there isn’t a fixed number of teams which will be awarded but any team having the project which meets the criteria will earn the support. The criteria, she says, include the viability of the project basing on the study, preparedness for implementation and its projected impact.

Exciting projects in contest

Many Scholars are developing projects inspired by challenges they have observed in their communities. With modest resources, scholars are activating their ideas for change by leading projects such as ANIKA that aims to alleviate food insecurity in Eastern Rwanda; saving livestock from severe drought through the Aquacalaf Project in Somalia; alleviating child malnutrition in Zimbabwe through Batatas Agro – Enterprise (BAE Foods).

Ghislaine Ingabire, who owns ANIKA, explains that her project aims to alleviate food insecurity in Rwanda by providing a cost-effective way to increase the life-span of perishable agricultural products from weeks to months, and even years. Ingabire, a student at Wesley College in the USA, plans to implement ANIKA project in Eastern Rwanda with drying tomatoes and some fruits for a long life-span.

“Dried fruits and vegetables can be preserved and consumed with no risk of getting foodborne diseases, while conserving the nutrients, food value, and taste,” she says, adding that she is ready to start operations with as little capital as $800 which she would use to buy cheap machinery and rent a working space.

Nadine Iradukunda explains Health Us project during the 2019 Mastercard Foundation Social Venture Challenge in Kigali

Jennipher Panashe, who shares Colourful Plastics project with two colleagues from Ashesi University in Ghana, says the project aims to reduce plastic pollution and improve road safety in Accra, Ghana by constructing roads made out of plastic.

“Plastic road construction ensures plastic can be buried without causing waste disposal problems and road maintenance costs are significantly reduced,” she says.

The Mastercard Foundation collaborates with The Resolution Project to host a Resolution Social Venture Challenge, a competition that provides a pathway to action for socially responsible young leaders who want to create change that matters in their communities. In 2016, six teams won the challenge, followed by 10 and 15 winning teams in 2017 and 2018 respectively.

Created in 2006 by Mastercard International, the Canada-based Mastercard Foundation is one of the world’s largest foundations which strives to advance learning and promote financial inclusion for people living in poverty and operates almost exclusively in Africa.

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Elias Hakizimana

Elias Hakizimana, CEO&Founder of The Inspirer Ltd,( is a professional Rwandan Journalist with Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Communication, received from University of Rwanda’s College of Arts and Social Sciences (CASS) in 2014. He served various media houses in Rwanda including Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA) in 2013 and became passionate with English Online and Print Media Publications where he exercised his talent as a Freelance News Reporter for The New Times, The Independent, The Rwanda Focus, Panorama and more before he became a Self-Entrepreneur as the CEO and Founder of The Inspirer Limited in early 2017.

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