Equity Group Foundation and The MasterCard Foundation welcome 2,907 new students to the Wings To Fly

The fund has grown from USD 50M in 2010 to USD 75.6M benefiting nearly 8,700 scholars as part of a 10,000 scholarship target

18th February, 2013 Nairobi… 2,907 Scholars of the 2013 Wings To Fly Secondary School scholarship program were today commissioned in a ceremony presided over by H.E President of the Republic of Kenya Hon. Mwai Kibaki. The scholarship program is a partnership between Equity Group Foundation and The MasterCard Foundation, supported by USAID, UKaid and KfW. The scholarship is Kenya’s largest secondary education and leadership program. It provides for tuition, books, uniforms, pocket money and also exposes the scholars to leadership development, career guidance and mentoring to ensure they achieve their full potential.

The jubilant students who received this year’s scholarship will be proceeding to national and provincial secondary schools in the country. They were commissioned to embark on their secondary school education at a colorful ceremony witnessed by former President of Botswana Festus G. Mogae, key government officials, program partners as well as thousands of parents and guardians who came to witness the historic moment in the academic journey of the beloved children.

The Wings To Fly program has continued to grow from strength since it was launched by His Excellency President Mwai Kibaki in 2011 with 5,000 scholarships worth 40.9M USD from The MasterCard Foundation. To date, the program has secured an additional 3,671 scholarships comprising of 600 scholarships worth USD 5M from UKAID, 2,678 scholarships worth USD 26.4M from USAID and 350 scholarships worth USD 3M from KfW. Another 43 scholarships worth USD 0.3M have been secured through the generous donation of individuals and corporates. This brings the total to 8,671 scholarships worth USD 75.6M which is part of a 10,000 scholarship target by 2015.

Reeta Roy, the President and CEO of The MasterCard Foundation said,” Thanks to His Excellency the President, Kenya is now committed to providing primary education to all its citizens. The next challenge is to ensure all young people have the possibility to continue their studies. This is where innovative programs like Wings to Fly play such an important role.  In 2011, The MasterCard Foundation made a commitment to 5,000 academically talented, yet economically disadvantaged Kenyans.  Subsequent commitments from UKaid, USAID, KfW, individuals & corporates have allowed us to reach 8,671 scholarships and to grow the fund to USD 75.6M.  This program is now the largest of its kind in the continent and a model for our $500 million MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program.”

The advent of free primary school education has enabled a large number of students to access primary school education though a large portion of students are unable to transit into secondary school due to financial and other constraints. As a result of this free primary education policy, the enrolment in Kenya dramatically increased from 5.8 million in 2003 to 8.6 million in 2008. Unfortunatley 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.

Speaking at the ceremony, Equity Group Foundation Chairman and Group CEO of Equity Bank Dr. James Mwangi said, “We believe the best way to empower the next generation is to support them in accessing education, mentorship and coaching. We are pleased that majority of the scholars in the program continue to maintain exemplary academic performance while also demonstrating leadership capability by taking up roles such as school prefects, games captains, club leaders all the while upholding discipline and focus on their academic pursuits.”

“The Wings To Fly program goes a long way in achieving our Vision 2030 agenda which has the objective of investing in the young people of Kenya in order to improve the quality of life for all Kenyans and transform Kenya into a middle class economy.” Dr. Mwangi further added.

The Wings To Fly program leverages on Equity Bank infrastructure of branches and agent network to reach out to deserving children with the information about the scholarships.  The selection is carried out in a transparent way by District Scholarship Selection Boards that are comprised of members drawn from the local communities. This process has continued to earn strong community ownership by reaching the most deserving and academically talented children in the community.

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Notes to Editor

About Equity Group Foundation

Equity Group Foundation was established by Equity Bank to create the financial and operational infrastructure for social programs aimed at low income population. This innovation and creative vehicle has fully transformed the concept of philanthropy and corporate social responsibility. While Equity Group Foundation champions the social economic transformation of the people of Africa and seeks partnership along six cluster thematic areas, Equity Bank provides the infrastructure of delivery hence reducing the operational cost of the Foundation and increasing the rate of return on any social investment.

Equity Group Foundation, in partnership with The MasterCard Foundation and with support from UKAID USAID and KfW has secured USD 75.6 million for 8,671 scholarships for academically gifted but financially challenged children, which is part of a 10,000 targeted secondary school scholarships by 2015 under the Wings To Fly program. In partnership with The MasterCard Foundation, EGF is training a targeted 1 million youth and women in financial education. The Foundation has also been instrumental in agricultural transformation under the green revolution for Africa under its Kilimo Biashara initiative in partnership with AGRA, Government of Kenya and IFAD. The Foundation focuses on six key social thematic areas of Education and Leadership development, Financial Literacy and Access, Entrepreneurship, Agriculture, Health, Innovation and environmental protection.

About the Wings To Fly Program

The MasterCard Foundation and Equity Group Foundation’s Wings To Fly Scholarship Program, with support from UKAID and USAID and German Corporation’s KfW, is a groundbreaking USD75.6 million partnership that enables young people to access and complete secondary school and improve their prospects of accessing higher education. The program targets students transitioning from primary school to secondary school. This initiative provides comprehensive secondary school education and leadership training targeting 10 000 academically gifted yet economically disadvantaged young Kenyans by 2015. The initiative also incorporates a mentorship program linking the students with the leading lights in business and government locally and globally.

About The MasterCard Foundation

The MasterCard Foundation is an independent, global organization based in Toronto, Canada, with more than $6 billion in assets.  Through collaboration with partner organizations in 49 countries, mostly in Africa, it is creating opportunities for all people to learn and prosper. The Foundation's programs advance microfinance as well as youth education and employment. Established in 2006 through the generosity of MasterCard Worldwide when it became a public company, the Foundation is separate and independent from the company. Its policies, operations, and funding decisions are determined by its own Foundation Board of Directors and President and CEO.

www.mastercardfdn.org