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Africa’s Next Generation Through the Lens of Leadership & Philanthropy


MEDIA Partner: Ayiba Magazine


  • Eyitemi Popo founded Girls Trip Tours, a provider of unique travel experiences. With a focus on women’s empowerment, Girls Trip Tours hosts trips to various African destinations for women around the world; throughout the course of their stay, these women get to know local communities, meet with local business leaders, support women-owned businesses, and mentor local young women. In a world where the face of African philanthropy remains largely white, Girls Trip Tours aims to center local actors in volunteer tourism efforts on the African continent and attune these efforts to the needs of local communities. 
  • When Reeta Roy joined the Mastercard Foundation over a decade ago, the organization was but a startup. Now, it is one of the world’s largest private foundations, having invested over $2.6 billion to advance education and financial inclusion in Africa. The Foundation’s approach to philanthropy prioritizes the voices of communities directly impacted by pressing global problems. The Foundation tackles challenges with humility and with the realization that the search for solutions to these challenges necessitates a constant process of listening and learning from the world’s most vulnerable. 

“Sometimes we’re in boardrooms and we come up with agendas and action plans, but to really see on the ground—in context—why and how that work needs to be done can be a very different experience,” Eyitemi Popo

  • Supporting local African youth forms a major part of the Mastercard Foundation’s raison d’etre. The Foundation’s new strategy on the continent, Young Africa Works, involves collaboration with numerous African organizations in an effort to create dignified, fulfilling employment opportunities for some 30 million young people. The Foundation has also established a think tank for young people, empowering these individuals to help develop Mastercard’s strategies, critique these strategies, and define the success of these strategies on their own terms. 
  • Roy highlighted the ripple effects that entrepreneurs can have on their local communities. She recalled a female entrepreneur residing in northern Ghana who has played a critical role in uplifting her community through her work with shea butter. Her entrepreneurship has created ample livelihood opportunities, prevented women from being exploited, enabled local children to attend school, and put scores of families in a position where they are now able to save income as well as consider different income streams. 
  • For Roy, the response of African leadership to the pandemic represents a remarkable success story; such a response was robust, collaborative, and unified. Roy also highlighted the ingenuity of the African private sector in the wake of COVID-19. Many private sector actors have created novel, innovative opportunities around e-learning and e-distribution, and accelerated digitization across the continent.

“When we look at the diversity, history, richness, culture across Africa, we [Mastercard Foundation] feel so fortunate to have a small part in that narrative,” Reeta Roy

Key takeaways & next steps:

  • Now, more than ever before, actors across all sectors must help young people on the African continent adapt to the rapidly-changing global workforce. 
  • Learning opportunities that enable young people to identify and capitalize on their strengths and passions must be created.


Session Speakers