Strengthening Rural Youth Development through Enterprise

TechnoServe is partnering with The MasterCard Foundation to help rural young people ages 18 to 30 in East Africa transition to economic independence.


Sub-Saharan Africa has the world’s youngest and fastest-growing population. The median age has dropped to 18 and there are 70 million more Africans under the age of 14 than there were a decade ago. In addition, the rural population of sub-Saharan Africa will increase by an estimated 150 million people by 2050.

Between 2000 and 2008, about a third of the 74 million (24.6 million) jobs created in Africa were for people ages 15 to 24. However, with 10 to 12 million youth enter the labor market every year, the number of youth ready for employment far outstrips the jobs being created.

While a growing number of rural youth are migrating to cities, 70 percent remain in rural areas. Those who stay often lack the skills and knowledge necessary to capitalize on available opportunities. In the long term, youth unemployment can hinder economic growth and lead to political and social unrest.


Agriculture in East Africa is a significant and growing sector of the economy and has the potential to create sustainable employment and income opportunities both on and off the farm. Young people bring vitality and innovation to the workforce. With tremendous untapped potential, East Africa’s rural youth hold the key to the region’s future economic growth and success. By making agricultural employment more attractive, and equipping this group with skills and confidence they need to engage in economic opportunities, TechnoServe aims to help rural youth become active contributors and financially independent members of their communities.


In 2011, TechnoServe and The MasterCard Foundation partnered to help rural young women and men in East Africa transition to economic independence through the Strengthening Rural Youth Development through Enterprise (STRYDE) program. In the first phase of the program,  STRYDE delivered a comprehensive package of services including skills training, business development and mentoring to young people ages 18 to 30 in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda. It aimed to equip 15,000 rural youth by 2015 with the skills and knowledge necessary to capitalize on economic opportunities and increase their incomes, with the ripple effects benefiting more than 67,000 family members.

The second phase of the program, STRYDE 2.0, is based on the successes and lessons learned from the first phase. STRYDE 2.0 will work with an additional 48,015 youth and include new geographies, expanding into Tanzania and new districts in northern Uganda. Launched in August 2014, this phase will run through July 2019.

A key component of the STRYDE 2.0 model is sustainability. The program will develop the capacity of system actors – local public and private sector partners – to enable them to take on key functions of the model so that the impact can be sustained after the end of the five-year program. Nearly 40 percent of the participants in STRYDE 2.0 will be trained by partner organizations. To ensure quality delivery of these trainings, partner organizations will be trained and their delivery and impact monitored.

The key objectives under STRYDE 2.0 are:

  • Scale the STRYDE model to reach more youth in new geographies. The bigger share of the program will be in Tanzania (15,430 participants).
  • Strengthen the STRYDE model’s aftercare component by tailoring activities to the specific needs of different participant segments.
  • Sustain the STRYDE model via capacitation of local partners so they are able to provide STRYDE trainings to rural youth beyond TechnoServe’s exit.
  • Share learnings about the improvements to the STRYDE model that will benefit the broader youth ecosystem.

Results of Phase 1

A total of 15,552 young women and men have successfully graduated from the STRYDE program. The majority of STRYDE alumni are engaged in gainful employment. They have increased their incomes by an average of 133 percent, with 90 percent now saving regularly – a ninefold increase from before the training. Of the beneficiaries who have completed training, 30 percent are currently running micro- and small enterprises, 37 percent are engaged in farming, 11 percent have found wage employment and 6 percent have returned to school.

Overall, STRYDE has helped participants become better equipped to find employment, to establish or enhance businesses, and to provide reliable sources of income for themselves and their families. As a comprehensive package of youth employment services, STRYDE represents a model and important learning opportunity for future youth intervention programs.


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.