15 Apr 2020

Head of Transitions, Scholars Program for Mastercard Foundation

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Job Description

Head of Transitions

Mastercard Foundation seeks a world where everyone has the opportunity to learn and prosper. Through its Young Africa Works strategy and Canadian EleV program, the Foundation works with partners to ensure that millions of young people, especially young women, access quality education, financial services and dignified work. Mastercard Foundation was established in 2006 through the generosity of Mastercard when it became a public company. The Foundation is independent with its own Board of Directors and CEO.


We have entered a very exciting time at the Foundation as we scale up our operations across Africa to realize our Young Africa Works strategy. Our role at the Mastercard Foundation is to be a catalyst. Our Young Africa Works strategy focuses on working with others to spur systemic change so young people have the opportunity to find work that is dignified and fulfilling.

The Foundation has opened offices in Rwanda, Kenya, Ghana, Senegal, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Uganda, building a broader leadership presence in Africa to develop specific strategies that support youth employment. Within a country, we work with governments, the private sector, educators and other founders to improve the quality of education and vocational training, prepare young people for the work force, expand access to financial services for entrepreneurs and small businesses, and connect job seekers to dignified and fulfilling work.

We are ambitious and driven. Our values transcend and rise above everything else as our guide. We encourage you to bring your bold ideas, curiosity, and expertise to your work. We laugh at ourselves and with each other. We are a team. Our journey together makes our impact even more meaningful.


The Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program is a signature initiative of the Foundation.  The goal of the Scholars Program is a network of transformative leaders driving inclusive and equitable socio-economic transformation in Africa.  To date, the Program has committed to supporting more than 37,000 academically talented yet economically disadvantaged young people from Africa with access to quality and relevant secondary and university education, tailored support services and leadership development inputs and opportunities.

The Scholars Program is expanding to add 15,000 new scholarships at the university level, with a focus on women, refugees and displaced youth, and young people with disabilities. Enabling all Scholars to transition from education to dignified and fulfilling work (including entrepreneurship) is a critical aspect of the Scholars Program. Ensuring successful post-graduation transitions is essential to enabling Scholars to live out their potential, and drive and lead change.


The Head of Transitions is a newly created position and comes at an exciting time of growth for the Foundation as it implements its new strategy, Young Africa Works.

The role will lead the development and implementation of strategies and activities to facilitate the transition of Scholars from high-quality secondary and tertiary education to dignified and fulfilling work, and entrepreneurship opportunities, in Africa.

The Foundation is looking for an innovative and entrepreneurial thinker and doer who brings considerable experience working in Africa, preferably from the private sector.

The successful candidate will be passionate about catalyzing the power of young people in Africa to spur socio-economic transformation. S/he will build a high-performing team that will design and deliver impactful programs enabling Scholars and alumni to successfully transition to dignified and fulfilling work, including creating opportunities for themselves and others; provide technical assistance to colleagues and Program partners on transition-related issues; build productive and collaborative relationships with key networks, industries and individuals in the public and private sector and stakeholders in the entrepreneurship ecosystem across Africa; and promote the Foundation’s work and impact in Africa.


Reporting to the Head of the Scholars Program, the Head of Transitions key responsibilities will be to provide strategic and tactical leadership on transitions efforts within the Scholars Program. S/he will be expected to build a high-performing Transitions team within the Scholars Program, and to work closely with the Foundation’s Program team to anchor work within the larger framework of the Foundation’s Young Africa Works strategy. S/he will be responsible for the following:

Program Strategy and Alignment with Young Africa Works

  • Develop a Program-wide strategy and framework for action, to facilitate Scholar transitions, anchored in the Foundation’s Young Africa Works strategy
  • Set goals and targets with respect to Scholar transitions (e.g. internships, fellowships, job placement, entrepreneurship activities, and further higher education) and monitor and report on progress, attainment and learning
  • Lead in the development of country-level transition plans for Scholars, in collaboration with Scholars Program partner institutions and the Foundation’s country program teams

Program Design and Delivery

  • Design and deliver programs, in collaboration with partners, for Scholars and alumni that facilitate successful transition from school to work, including but not limited to: soft-skills development programs, internship and fellowship programs, job-placement programs, entrepreneurship development programs (e.g. incubators, accelerators) etc.
  • Work with colleagues in the Foundation’s Human Resources (HR) team to deliver an impactful Foundation Internship Program for Scholar alumni, and to expand and scale this program to the Foundation’s partner institutions at country level
  • Provide technical assistance to Scholars Program partners (universities and NGOs) to establish and monitor transition-related KPIs and to strengthen their programs and inputs aimed at supporting Scholars to transition to work, entrepreneurship or further higher education
  • Drive inclusion, ensuring that all entrepreneurship and transition programs and inputs consider the specific constraints and realities of marginalized youth, particularly women, refugees and displaced youth, and young people with disabilities
  • Oversee the capture of data and learnings and ensure that insights and impact are routinely and effectively reported, and continually integrated into program design and implementation

Partnership and Stakeholder Engagement

  • Leveraging existing initiatives, build a network of employers, in the public and private sectors – in Africa and beyond – that will create and facilitate internship and work opportunities for Scholars and alumni, and will champion the Scholar value-proposition and brand
  • Build a network of stakeholders in the entrepreneurship ecosystem, in Africa and globally (e.g. entrepreneurship programs, incubators and accelerators, financial service providers, etc.) that will facilitate opportunities for Scholar and alumni to develop and grow their entrepreneurial projects and that will champion the Scholar value-proposition and brand

Leadership and Management

  • Identify and recruit talent to build up the Scholars Program Transitions team
  • Effectively lead, mentor and coach staff on the Transitions team, ensuring the delivery of high-quality work, alignment with Foundation values, and a supportive and collaborative work environment embracing diversity and inclusion
  • Closely collaborate with Heads and Leads of other Scholars Program work streams to ensure an integrative approach to the design and delivery of the Scholars Program overall
  • Partner with Country and Regional Heads and teams to facilitate Scholar transitions, in line with Young Africa Works
  • Champion safeguarding of Scholars and all program participants
  • Represent the Foundation at relevant events


  • An individual with at least 15 years of experience promoting youth employment in Africa, preferably working in the private sector and/or leading your own enterprise.
  • You are passionate about youth education, entrepreneurship and employment in Africa.
  • You are a team player and have demonstrated experience working across cultures and geographies, building teams and coaching and mentoring others.
  • You are committed to engaging and empowering young people, particularly women, and excluded youth.
  • You are a great listener and know how to engage leaders and senior people in private sector, government, financial service providers etc.
  • You hold a Master’s degree in Business Administration, Public Policy, International Development, Social Sciences or a related field.
  • Proven ability to think in a big-picture and strategic way, and to plan and delivery complex initiatives
  • Innovative and entrepreneurial individual with demonstrated experience designing and delivering new initiatives and creative approaches to problems
  • Strong leadership, organizational, and analytical skills
  • Results-driven and motivated by a high sense of performance excellence and urgency
  • Commitment to the values of co-creation, humility and deep listening
  • Commitment to team and stakeholder orientation; demonstrated success building and managing high-performing teams
  • You are flexible, adaptable, and able to execute a range of job duties and changing priorities.
  • You possess excellent verbal, written, and presentation skills with the ability to articulate information to a variety of constituents across cultures.
  • You possess professional maturity, sensitivity with different cultures, and impeccable integrity that exemplify the Foundation’s values.
  • You have a commitment to Mastercard Foundation’s values and vision.


Deadline for Applications is April 21, 2020


The Mastercard Foundation values the unique skills and experiences each individual brings to the organization and we are committed to creating and maintaining an inclusive and accessible environment for everyone.

Completion of satisfactory business references and background checks are essential conditions of employment.

For more information and to sign up for the Foundation’s newsletter, please visit http://www.mastercardfdn.org/. Follow the Foundation on Twitter at @MastercardFdn


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