We cannot wait, we will not wait. 

OTTAWA, Canada, April 12, 2024 — When teams from Digital Opportunity Trust (DOT) met with hundreds of young people in four African countries last year, again and again we heard a consistent message. 

From the rural Malawian teenagers walking two hours each way to and from school, to the aspiring Zambian app developers teaching themselves to code on YouTube, the youth we talked to were not sitting idle, they were not waiting to be saved. They were already working as entrepreneurs, peer mentors, and community leaders, articulating powerful visions of their futures and the prospects for those around them. 

They are not waiting, and neither will we. Over the next four years, DOT and the Mastercard Foundation are partnering for the “Going Beyond – Partnering for a Youth-Led Future” project to collaborate with these young people to transform their societies. With our support for local youth-led and youth serving organizations, young leaders in Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia, and Côte d’Ivoire will train 300,000 of their peers in critical technology and business skills, using curricula that they themselves are helping to design. 

Indeed, Africa is the youngest region in the world, and the four countries in which Going Beyond will operate have a median age of just 18. That means there is enormous potential for African youth to be engines of development – but they must have the right tools and opportunities to thrive in a digital world. 

In our discussions in these countries, we heard from young people hungry for more than the basic computer skills they got in school, or the snippets of business advice they’d found surfing the web at their local internet cafe. Their challenges were great, but their resourcefulness was even greater. 

Reflecting this creativity and the importance of local ownership, Going Beyond will be implemented principally by local youth-led and youth-serving organizations in the four countries. 

“We aren’t coming in as the experts. Young people are already the experts on their communities, their contexts and their futures – our model is based on trust, and we want to be there to support them as they continue to innovate,” says Janet Longmore, DOT’s founder and CEO. 

Together, these young people will train, coach and mentor multiples of their peers in the field of digital business skills to strengthen their self-confidence and unleash their potential. It is a DOT policy that 70 percent of participants will be young women. Partnerships will also serve as channels to serve disadvantaged communities such as isolated rural youth, refugees and people with disabilities. 

“These young people bring creative perspectives, they are imaginative thinkers and they are not standing idle,” Longmore says. “We look to them as our leaders and we are thrilled to be a part of their many next chapters.”

About Digital Opportunity Trust

DOT is a Canadian-based not-for-profit organization headquartered in Ottawa, Canada, with locally managed offices in the UK and across 6 countries in Africa and the Middle East: Tanzania, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Kenya, Lebanon and Jordan. DOT extends its reach to Ghana, Uganda, Côte D’Ivoire, Malawi, and Zambia through local partnerships with youth-led and youth-serving organizations. DOT’s unique youth-led model has created an impact in over 25 countries, mobilizing and inspiring all underserved and disadvantaged young people with digital literacy, 21st-century skills, and the self-confidence that will enable them to thrive in an inclusive digital economy.

For more information, please visit www.dotrust.org

About The Mastercard Foundation

The Mastercard Foundation is a Canadian Foundation and one of the world’s largest foundations, with a mission to advance education and financial inclusion. It works with visionary organizations to enable young people in Africa and in Indigenous communities in Canada to access dignified and fulfilling work. The Foundation was established in 2006 through the generosity of Mastercard when it became a public company. The Foundation is an independent organization and separate from the company. Its policies, operations, and programs are determined by the Foundation’s Board of Directors and leadership.

For more information on the Foundation, please visit www.mastercardfdn.org.