300 Next-Generation African Leaders and Entrepreneurs to Receive Quality Education and Entrepreneurship Training Photo credit: Jake Naughton/Intersect for the Mastercard Foundation COTONOU, Benin Republic, 9 November 2017,-- The University of Abomey-Calavi's commitment to educating next-generation African leaders received a boost today with a seven-year, USD$6.2 million commitment from the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program. The new partnership, which for the first time expands the Scholars Program to Francophone West Africa, will benefit 300 bright young Africa leaders and entrepreneurs with a high-quality education, creating pathways to careers in science and technology, as well as business and entrepreneurship for youth whose academic talent and promise exceed their financial resources. "The University of Abomey-Calavi is proud to collaborate with the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program, a partnership which has energized our commitment to youth leadership and entrepreneurship education," explained Professor Brice Sinsin, President of the University of Abomey-Calavi. "We envision leading change in our community by putting students and researchers at the heart of local development, and fostering greater involvement of graduates through social action campaigns and community development projects." "Young Francophone Africans deserve every chance to study and thrive," says Peter Materu, Director of Education and Learning and Youth Livelihoods, the Mastercard Foundation. "Strengthening higher education in Francophone West Africa is critical to ensuring that the region can meet the needs of growing markets. By working with the University of Abomey-Calavi, the Foundation hopes to foster stronger academic relationships and partnerships with other Francophone universities, improving higher education enrollment rates across the region." The Scholars Program at the University of Abomey-Calavi will have two components: the first will emphasize access to quality education for 200 Scholars in the fields of agronomic sciences, engineering sciences, computer sciences, and renewable energy. These students will also be admitted into the university's pre-employment service, a workforce made up of graduates of the University of Abomey-Calavi focused on social entrepreneurship and will enable Scholars to share values and gain valuable work experience. The Mastercard Foundation works with visionary organizations to provide greater access to education, skills training and financial services for people living in poverty, primarily in Africa. As one of the largest private foundations, its work is guided by its mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion to create an inclusive and equitable world. Based in Toronto, Canada, its independence was established by Mastercard when the Foundation was created in 2006. Established in 1970, the University of Abomey-Calavi is the oldest and largest public university in Benin. With a student population estimated at 85 000 registrations for the 2016-2017 academic year, the University is a true place of knowledge having trained the majority of the Beninese nation's elite. The University of Abomey-Calavi is a higher academic and research institution offering a wide variety of training covering the areas of health science, science and technology, agricultural science, juridical and political science, economic science and management, human and social science, literature, arts and language science, and educational sciences. The University of Abomey-Calavi maintains cooperative relationships with a vast number of institutions of higher education the world over to strengthen their own training and research programmes. The University of Abomey-Calavi is also the recipient of the international prize celebrating the quality of its academic and administrative governance. The second component of the partnership will focus on providing technical expertise for the development of 'Startups Valley', a business incubator program created by the University of Abomey-Calavi. Startups Valley will provide 100 Scholars with an opportunity to sharpen their entrepreneurial skills and mindsets, setting them on the path to successful entrepreneurship and enabling them to launch their own businesses, employ other students, and contribute to their economy. The University of Abomey-Calavi joins a global network of 29 universities and non-governmental organizations committed to over 35,000 bright young leaders with a deep personal commitment to changing the world around them and improving the lives of others. The Scholars Program provides holistic student support, including comprehensive scholarships, leadership development, pre-employment, and industry-driven career services - developing highly skilled, transformative leaders to catalyze inclusive prosperity in Africa.