The MasterCard Foundation

The MasterCard Foundation
Equity Group Foundation

Equity Group Foundation

February 01, 2012 10:11 ET

Equity Group Foundation and The MasterCard Foundation Welcome Over 2,100 New Students to Kenya's Largest Secondary Education and Leadership Scholarship Program

Innovative 'Wings to Fly' partnership will now benefit nearly 7,300 students

NAIROBI, KENYA--(Marketwire - Feb. 1, 2012) - The MasterCard Foundation and the Equity Group Foundation today awarded 2,144 new students secondary school scholarships through the Wings to Fly program. This scholarship initiative that began in 2010 has grown from $50 million to $67 million with the support of additional partners including USAID and UKAid and will benefit nearly 7,300 students. The program is unique in that it not only provides these academically gifted yet economically disadvantaged students with tuition, books, uniforms, and stipends, but they also receive leadership development, career guidance, and mentoring to ensure they achieve their full potential. The celebration took place at an event attended by His Excellency the President of The Republic of Kenya, Hon. Mwai Kibaki, who was joined by Reeta Roy, President and CEO of The MasterCard Foundation, and Dr. James Mwangi, CEO of Equity Bank and Chair of Equity Group Foundation.

"This secondary education program will inspire meaningful change in our country, and as the lives of these scholarship recipients transform so too will the future prosperity of their families and communities at large," said President Kibaki. "The Wings to Fly program will be instrumental in helping us achieve our Vision 2030 goals of economic growth and social development."

As a result of Kenya's Free Primary Education Policy, primary school enrolment in Kenya dramatically increased from 5.8 million in 2003 to 8.6 million in 2008. However, only 64 percent of primary students enter secondary school and even fewer graduate. According to the World Bank, every year of secondary school completion translates into increased future wages. For girls, an extra year of schooling beyond the average boosts wages by 10 to 20 percent.

"Secondary education is a path to personal and economic empowerment," said Reeta Roy, President and CEO of The MasterCard Foundation. "Enabling Kenyans to complete their secondary education enhances their future prospects and capacity to become active citizens with the skills to lead significant change."

The program identifies students who ranked in the top 5 percentile in their district on the Kenya Certificate Primary examination. Finalists are screened based on transparent criteria that define economic need and vulnerability. These finalists are then interviewed by local District Scholarship Selection Committees who select the most deserving students for the scholarship. The program awards scholarships to an equal number of boys and girls.

"This project enables us to meet a key need among many deserving students transitioning between primary and secondary school," added Dr. James Mwangi, CEO of Equity Bank and Chairman of the Equity Group Foundation. "All young people deserve the opportunity to learn and providing these students with a secondary education will ultimately translate into a nation that is economically more dynamic, resourceful, and inventive."

Investing in the young talent of Kenya who cannot afford higher education is of paramount importance and with further public and private partner support, the Wings to Fly program will be able to reach even more deserving scholars.

About Equity Group Foundation

Equity Group Foundation (EGF) was created to harness Equity Bank's capabilities, infrastructure and reach, and to create a clear financial and operational separation for its social programs. EGF is the focal point for partnerships with Equity Bank on programs aimed at low-income populations. Its goal is to transform the socio-economic status of young people, support of women and youth entrepreneurs, health promotion, and agriculture development. EGF's strategy is to achieve impact by initiating new programs as well as manage and scale the bank's current social programs.

About The MasterCard Foundation

The MasterCard Foundation advances microfinance and youth learning to promote financial inclusion and prosperity. Through collaboration with committed partners in 48 countries, The MasterCard Foundation is helping people living in poverty to access opportunities to learn and prosper. An independent, private foundation based in Toronto, Canada, the Foundation was established through the generosity of MasterCard Worldwide at the time of the company's initial public offering in 2006.

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