President Obama Announces Four Regional Centers in Town Hall
President Barack Obama today announced that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) will invest more than $38 million toward four regional Leadership Centers that will train thousands of Africa's emerging leaders and foster connections, creativity, and collaboration in sectors critical to Africa's growth and development. USAID's investment was more than matched by African and American companies and foundations, including a $10-million, five-year commitment by The Mastercard Foundation, a premier partner. The President made the announcement during a town hall event for 500 Mandela Washington Fellows, a program for distinguished African youth that is part of the President's Young African Leaders Initiative, or YALI.
"In meetings with young leaders across Africa, I have seen firsthand the incredible energy and creativity among youth that has powered and shaped progress throughout the centuries," said USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah. "By connecting these bright leaders to the world's innovation highways, President Obama's Young African Leaders Initiative will empower a new generation to transform the continent and their communities."
The Centers will focus on engaging leaders between the ages of 18 and 35 from a variety of backgrounds and a diversity of experience, providing accessible leadership training, incubating organizations and entrepreneurship, and supporting professional connections among African leaders. Based in Ghana, Kenya, Senegal, and South Africa, each center will be run as a public-private partnership, capitalizing on the ingenuity and dynamism of the private sector and the programmatic and educational resources of USAID. Ten private sector partners and foundations have joined USAID in supporting the effort.
Reeta Roy, President and CEO of The MasterCard Foundation, said, "The MasterCard Foundation is delighted to partner with USAID on the next stage of the Young African Leaders Initiative. YALI offers great promise for talented young men and women of Africa, and includes critical education, entrepreneurship and leadership development opportunities. We are proud to invest in this next generation of African leaders who are poised to drive change in their communities, countries and across the continent."
USAID partner contributions include:
The MasterCard Foundation: $10 million in financial resources over five years to develop the centers. This commitment from The MasterCard Foundation continues their investments in the education, entrepreneurship and leadership development of young people who come from economically disadvantaged communities in Africa.
The Dow Chemical Company: $3 million in financial resources toward training facilities and equipment at the centers and $1 million in in-kind resources to develop leadership training, sector expertise, and mentoring programs for the centers. Dow's commitment continues their efforts to promote youth development in Africa, and supplements existing programs that provide housing and clean water facilities to those in need as well as shelters for children affected by HIV/AIDS.
Atlas Mara: $25 million in loans for young entrepreneurs, financial training, and leadership development.
Microsoft: $12.5 million in propriety business software and hardware.
McKinsey Corporation: $1.5 million in dedicated consultants to assist with program design, as well as management support and access to McKinsey's Africa Knowledge and Research center.
IBM: $500,000 in committed staff time to serve as volunteers at the centers.
General Electric: program design, training and mentoring.
Procter & Gamble: leadership training.
The Mara Foundation: networking mentorship program.
Intel Corporation: Up to $5 million in training entrepreneurship basics and technology trends, as well as volunteer support and coaching.
YALI Fellows and others are in Washington as part of the lead-up to the first U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, a three-day event hosted by President Obama to welcome leaders from across the African continent to the Nation's Capital. The Summit, the largest event any U.S. President has held with African heads of state and government, will build on the President's trip to Africa in the summer of 2013 and it will strengthen ties between the United States and one of the world's most dynamic and fastest growing regions. The theme of the Summit is "Investing in the Next Generation." Focusing on the next generation is at the core of a government's responsibility and work, and this Summit is an opportunity to discuss ways to stimulate growth, unlock opportunities, and create an enabling environment for the next generation.
USAID seeks to end extreme poverty by investing in Africa's greatest resource--its people--to sustain and further development, opportunity, and human rights for this and future generations. Across the continent, we are implementing major initiatives to improve health, food security, electricity access, trade, and resilience that are underpinned by commitments to good governance, education, gender equity, and the environment. For more information, visit www.usaid.gov/where-we-work/africa.
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