Full Time

Head of Western, Central and Northern Africa Partner Network, Scholars Program

Posted 12 months ago
Application ends: November 1, 2022
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Job Description


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 funders 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.

If you are an experienced professional ready to build something new and increase your impact, read on!


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 Western, Central and Northern Africa Partner Network 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. This role will champion building of the Scholars Program brand and lead its translation into action, in Western, Central and Northern Africa. It is also about ensuring that the right deserving individuals join the Program, that they get a quality education and effective leadership development and that they are supported to transition successfully to their next stage in life. And it goes beyond the Scholars. It is also about influencing other institutions, funders and policymakers on how they affect the sea change in education and future of work.

The Foundation is looking for an experienced and strategic and visionary individual with a strong passion for catalyzing the power of young people in Africa to spur socio-economic transformation. S/he will bring considerable experience working on higher education the continent, preferably also from the private sector. S/he will be a team-oriented leader with proven skills to engage with leadership of higher education institutions and employers in the public and private sector. private sector in Africa and around the world. S/he will be committed to principles of diversity and inclusion and have considerable experience engaging young people from disadvantaged communities, particularly women, refugees and displaced youth and/or young people with disabilities.


Reporting to the Head of the Scholars Program, the Head of Western, Central and Northern Africa Partner Network’s key responsibilities will be to provide leadership to the team and network of Scholars Program partner institutions, in Western, Central and Northern Africa. S/he will be responsible to lead its delivery and expansion in Western, Central and Northern Africa, including the identification and development of new partnerships, ensuring inclusion, and incorporating robust mechanisms for advancing transformative leadership, deepening Scholars’ transition, facilitating institutional transformation and catalyzing system level change.

S/he will be expected to lead a high-performing team and work closely with the broader Scholars Program team and country program teams in Western, Central and Northern Africa to anchor the Scholars Program 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
  • Lead the expansion of the Scholars Program in Western, Central and Northern Africa
  • Contribute to ongoing program strategy development and evolution, as a member of the Scholars Program leadership team
  • Set goals and targets for the Western, Central and Northern Africa Partner Network, and monitor to ensure their attainment
  • Identify and capitalize on opportunities to effectively link the Scholars Program with Young Africa Works country and regional programs, in Western, Central and Northern Africa
Program Design and Delivery
  • Identify and assess opportunities and lead co-creation of new Scholars Program partnerships with universities and other relevant stakeholders in Western, Central and Northern Africa
  • Provide ongoing guidance, support and technical assistance to all Scholars Program partner institutions in Western, Central and Northern Africa; lead problem solving and escalate issues as necessary
  • Drive inclusion, ensuring that all Scholars Program partnerships consider and respond to the specific constraints and realities of marginalized youth, particularly women, refugees and displaced youth, and young people with disabilities
  • Drive cross-team collaboration, with enabling functions and other teams within the Scholars Program
  • Utilize the Foundation’s tools and systems to effectively manage data, projects and initiatives
  • Champion Program quality and branding, working in close collaboration with Program Communications, the Transformative Leadership Team and senior leadership of implementing partner institutions
  • Collaborate with the Scholars Program Transitions team to ensure successful transition of Scholars into the world of work or further education
  • 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
  • Build and nurture relationships with senior leaders and relevant staff of higher education institutions in Western, Central and Northern Africa (e.g. Vice Chancellors, Presidents, and program administrators), particularly Scholars Program partner institutions
  • Establish and manage effective relationships with key stakeholders and networks in the public, private and non-profit sector working in education, leadership development, entrepreneurship and work for young people, particularly women, refugees and displaced youth and young people with disabilities
  • Facilitate connections and exchange and learning across the Scholars Program partner network in Western, Central and Northern Africa, including contributing to the planning and delivery of face-to-face convenings and virtual meetings
  • Build and maintain effective business partnerships with other teams within the Foundation
Leadership and Management
  • Effectively lead, mentor and coach staff in the Western, Central and Northern Africa team, ensuring the delivery of high-quality work, alignment with Foundation values, and a supportive and collaborative work environment that embraces diversity and inclusion
  • Identify and recruit additional talent to within the team as needed
  • Partner with leaders of other Scholars Program teams to ensure a collaborative and integrative approach to the design and delivery of the Scholars Program
  • Partner with Country and Regional Heads and teams in Western, Central and Northern Africa to facilitate delivery of the Scholars Program, in line with Young Africa Works
  • Champion safeguarding of Scholars and all program participants
  • Contribute to the senior leadership team of the Scholars Program and represent the Foundation at relevant events within and outside the region

Master’s or PhD degree in relevant field such as international development, education, public policy, social sciences or a related field.

Previous Experience
  • At least 15 years of working experience working in higher education and the private sector in progressively senior roles; at least 5 of which have been in key leadership level role, leading and nurturing others.
  • Proven experience to engage with senior leadership in higher education institutions, government, private sector etc., as well as young people.
  • Demonstrable experience creating and building a new initiative or transforming an existing one into something more impactful, in a multi-cultural environment
  • Demonstrable experience in presenting information to, and presenting to internal and external leadership teams/individuals
  • Some years of exposure to/involvement at the highest levels of academia
  • Team player and have demonstrated experience working across cultures and geographies, building teams and coaching and mentoring others.
Technical Competencies Sought
  • Proven ability to think in a big-picture and strategic way, and to plan and deliver complex initiatives
  • Entrepreneurial mindset to build a new function in a dynamic environment
  • Service Mindset and striving towards becoming a trusted business partner to drive common Foundation goals
  • Excellent verbal, written and presentation skills with the ability to articulate information to a variety of constituents across cultures
  • Ability to plan and act strategically over long time frames, patience and persistence to achieve goals; and ability to balance immediate executional needs with longer term visioning
  • Results-driven and motivated by a high sense of performance excellence and urgency
  • Drive to continually experiment and innovate, building and leveraging best-in-class expertise and learnings
  • Demonstrated success in building and managing high performing teams in in a fast-paced, fluid environment
  • Proven experience to effectively engage with technical experts to build communities of practice
  • Fluency in English and French required
  • Ability to travel frequently across Africa and internationally
Behavioral Competencies
  • Charismatic, pragmatic, persuasive and knows how to get others on-board
  • Passionate about youth leadership, education and employment in Africa
  • Commitment to the values of co-creation, humility and deep listening
  • Commitment to inclusion and diversity, professional maturity, sensitivity to different cultures, and impeccable integrity
  • Resilience and flexibility to manage through shifting priorities and rapidly changing environment
  • Professional maturity and sensitivity with others in a manner that exemplifies commitment to Foundation values .and vision
  • Commitment to engaging and empowering young people, particularly women, and other marginalized groups such as refugees and displaced youth, and young people with disabilities.
Leadership Competencies
  • Able to co-design mitigating /supporting approaches to address larger scale systems change
  • Sees and acts on interdependencies several steps beyond immediate concerns to robustly manage risks
  • Possesses contextual intelligence, knowing what approaches will have a better chance of success
  • Prioritizes and invests in relationships that advance towards desired outcomes
  • Applies best practices in change management communications and leadership to forge commitment and achieve sustained change
  • Uses the process of one’s own change and transition experience to highlight and validate resistance to change, and demonstrate how to work through it