Business: Mastercard Foundation, Gebeya announce $48 m partnership to equip Ethiopia’s next generation entrepreneurs

Addis Abeba — Mastercard Foundation and Gebeya Inc. have announced Mesirat (“to work”), a five-year program that will equip 100 entrepreneurs in Ethiopia with their own multi-sided gig marketplaces.

Powered by a $48 million partnershipthe two organizations and several other consortium partners will leverage their combined experience and expertise to co-create and replicate Gebeya’s model 100 times in tourism and hospitality, agriculture, education, construction, healthcare, commerce, manufacturing, Information Technology (IT), professional services, transport, the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) and entertainment sectors.

Mesirat will also empower entrepreneurs—especially young men and women—to launch and fully run their own gig marketplaces successfully across Ethiopia. This innovative partnership will equip two million young people with market-facing skills and enable one million of them (70 percent women) to find work.

The new partnership aligns with the Mastercard Foundation’s Young Africa Works Strategy to enable 10 million young men and women to have access to dignifying and fulfilling work by 2030, and equally speaks to Gebeya’s commitment to creating upskilling and employment opportunities for Ethiopia’s young people by leveraging digital technology.

“This is a new era for Ethiopia, and we’re so pleased to be part of it,” said Amadou Daffe, CEO and Co-Founder of Gebeya. “One of Gebeya’s focus areas is accelerating the adoption of the gig economy across Africa. With Mesirat, we will equip Ethiopia’s next generation of entrepreneurs with the technology and support they need. We are confident that we have the roadmap to success.”

“Women and youth have long been Ethiopia’s backbone,” said Menna Tafesse, Program Director of Mesirat. “Now we are putting them front and centre with a serious dedication of time and resources to revolutionize Ethiopia’s employment landscape sustainably. Let’s get to work.”

Recognizing the imperative nature of collaborating for change to ensure the success of this program, Mesirat will be executed by adopting a multi-sectoral approach. A collective of key consortium partners includes ACE Advisors, American College of Technology (ACT), Shega, The Urban Center, Center for Accelerated Women’s Economic Empowerment (CAWEE), and Laurendeau & Associates.

“It gives us great pleasure to partner with Gebeya and the Mastercard Foundation in this innovative initiative that is in line with our vision of creating opportunities for young women to fully realize their potential and contribute to the economic development of our country,” said Aida Erkihun, Co-Founder and Partner at ACE Advisors.

“In Ethiopia, the economy needs to create close to eight thousand jobs every business day,” said Bernard Laurendeau, Managing Partner at Laurendeau & Associates. “It is a ticking time bomb that the gig economy can defuse; the diffusion starts today with the Mesirat program.”

“Empowering women economically is key to development,” said Dr. Nigest Haile, Founder & Executive Director of CAWEE.

“As an active player that has been supporting and monitoring Ethiopia’s innovative economy, Shega has been witnessing and reporting on firsthand accounts of how the gig economy is providing a livelihood for many,” said Anteneh Tesfaye, Founder & CEO of Shega. “We are excited to be a part of the Mesirat program as we push the gig economy to be the fundamental pillar of Ethiopia’s job creation effort.”

Ethiopia is poised for a digital jobs revolution, with new historic new entrants in the telecommunications space, an explosion of fintech startups, and ride-sharing businesses proving the viability of the country’s gig economy. With Gebeya’s years of experience in the freelance and gig workspace, combined with its trusted consortium partners’ expertise and backed by the Mastercard Foundation’s insights, Ethiopia’s future of work is already here. “Mesirat will align with our motto: Transforming the lives of women and youth through technology,” said Dr. Asmamaw A. Mengistie, President of American College of Technology (ACT).

Mesirat is the foundation for our country’s youth to thrive and unlock their potential,” agreed Maheder Gebremedhin, Director of The Urban Center. “Through this partnership, we will bring about new opportunities for them to fulfill their aspirations as entrepreneurs, independent gig workers, and set a strong base for their futures.”

This consortium-led approach unites key players in the country’s ecosystem to collaborate for change. While Gebeya expands its model of being a SaaS-enabled marketplace, it will share its lessons learned and best practices with entrepreneurs to fast-track their success and access to investment. Mesirat will also have its dedicated virtual portal at

“Gig work enables people that seek to control over their work lives (when and where to work) which is beneficial particularly for women. This program will provide young women and men the opportunities for upskilling with new and relevant competencies to successfully grow in their career and enterprises. We are happy to partner with such visionary organizations to achieve our commitment and goal of enabling 10 million (70 percent women) young men and women to have access to dignifying and fulfilling work. The success in the gig economy is evident with the growing ride-hailing companies in Addis, enabling thousands of work opportunities. We hope Mesirat will catalyze growth and transform the gig economy in Ethiopia,” said Samuel Yalew Adela, Mastercard Foundation Country Director, Ethiopia. dispatch

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