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About the Program

Mastercard Foundation has partnered with Michigan State University to provide full tuition scholarships to undergraduate and Master’s degree students from sub-Saharan Africa. 

Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at MSU

inline_mcfsp-graduation_phone.jpgScholarship recipients are chosen from a pool of students who have demonstrated academic talent and have a personal commitment to serve their countries or regions of origin. Through leadership and career training, financial, academic, social, and post-graduation support, the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at MSU ensures that Scholars are equipped with the academic and professional skills and competencies needed to make significant contributions to economic growth and social development in their respective countries of origin.

What Sets the Scholars Program Apart

The Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program differs from other scholarship initiatives in several key ways.

Community-minded students with the potential to create change. Scholars are academically strong students who come from marginalized communities and demonstrate strong leadership and a commitment to improving their communities.
Holistic support. The scholarship is comprehensive, covering school fees/tuition, uniforms, textbooks, computers and other learning materials. The Program provides financial support for transportation, living expenses and stipends, and also have access to mentors and counsellors.
A focus on leadership skills and socioeconomic change. Scholars receive leadership training and develop skills and experience they need to initiate change in their home communities.
A practical employment orientation. Scholars are provided with career guidance, internship opportunities and training in skills critical to employment success.

Four Cornerstones

The Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at Michigan State University is built upon four cornerstones; leadershipprofessional developmententrepreneurship, and service.   


Leadership in education is important for scholars to effect change in their communities after graduation. The Leadership Academy for African Development (LAAD) is the flagship leadership-training model designed by MSU’s Mastercard Foundation Scholar Program. The two year curriculum will produce Scholars who – through the application of effective leadership, professional, and personal skills – will achieve demonstrably transformative results in their respective communities and nations in Africa. 

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Professional Development

Internships on the continent are an integral component of a Scholar’s professional development. They help students build a professional networks before graduation, they help fine-tune and focus a student’s field of study to match market needs, and they teach soft skills necessary to stand out in a competitive labor market. One of the distinguishing marks of MSU’s program is 100% placement for summer internships on the continent of Africa.

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Labor demand in Sub-Saharan Africa is lagging far behind its population growth. As the continent with the youngest population in the world, African youth are not able to transition to the workforce fast enough. Entrepreneurship and small and medium enterprises can drive economic growth, create jobs, and address unmet needs in innovative ways. At MSU, we foster entrepreneurship in a variety of ways:

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Mastercard Foundation Scholars are expected to demonstrate a tradition of service in their home communities as a pre-requisite to their application. During their required internships, Scholars must also dedicate time to community service. That spirit of service is promoted on MSU’s campus in congruence with the values of the larger student body, and it continues with a commitment to return to the African continent and serve their home country after graduation.

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A Focus on Africa

Africa is home to approximately 600 million people under the age of 25, the world's youngest population. Some parts of Africa have seen tremendous economic growth, but that growth has not always been equitable. In some areas more than 60 percent of youth live below the poverty line. In sub-Saharan Africa, 70 percent of people live on less than $2 per day.

With the right opportunities, Mastercard Foundation believes these young people can lift themselves, their families and communities out of poverty.

Mastercard Foundation is contributing to an inclusive, more equitable Africa by supporting the implementation of proven development models and scalable approaches. These initiatives tackle some of the big challenges the people of Africa face, such as a lack of access to financial services and quality education.

About the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program

The mission of the Mastercard Foundation is to advance education and financial inclusion to catalyze prosperity in developing countries. The Scholars Program is a 10-year, US $700 million initiative that will enable 15,000 academically talented students from marginalized communities (mostly in sub-Saharan Africa) to attend secondary school and/or university.

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