Young women from a Tostan partner community attend a public declaration to end harmful practices in Matam, Senegal (2018).

Kolda, Senegal — Tostan and the Mastercard Foundation partner to foster economic resilience in rural Senegal.

Tostan and the Mastercard Foundation announced today a new partnership aimed at supporting communities most at risk of the direct and long-term effects of COVID-19 in rural Senegal. The project will support more than 500 communities in the Kolda and Matam regions of Senegal to be more economically resilient in their recovery. Tostan partners with primarily rural communities whose local economies are based on subsistence agriculture and small businesses, both of which have been negatively impacted by measures implemented to prevent the spread of the virus the first. With incomes decreasing during the first few months of the pandemic, women, and in particular young women, have borne a disproportionate burden due to other responsibilities they need to manage, including maintaining their households, generating income, and working to grow, harvest, and prepare food for their families.

It has therefore become crucial to quickly tackle these economic challenges while also addressing the health emergency, so that communities can secure their basic needs, and strengthen their economic resilience. As a result, this project will prioritize community-level solutions in the short and medium-term to support women and young people in building their economic and psychosocial resilience, and ultimately to enhance their overall well-being over the long-term. This project will more deeply engage with communities to develop their own strategies for stronger stability and will help to improve gender imbalances. By more deeply engaging with these communities and encouraging them to develop their own strategies, this project will also help to improve gender imbalances communities determine their own strategies to reinforce their stability, the project will directly impact entrenched gender imbalances that disadvantage girls and women whose impact may be magnified by the current emergency.

“At Tostan there is a deep passion about this project. This is a partnership that really meets communities where they are at this very critical and challenging moment. It is so exciting for us to launch a program that will directly help women, girls, and entire communities address very real needs they have right now while also building on community leadership and strengthening their resilience for the future” said Tostan CEO Elena Bonometti. “Tostan has seen that development is most powerful and sustainable when driven at the community level, building on skills and capacities and visions of communities themselves. We think this partnership can be a wonderful new chapter in the story of communities building resilience and leadership for the future,” she added.

“From the outset, the Foundation was very clear that we needed to focus on delivering support to those hardest hit by the pandemic—including rural communities and women—and that this work needed to be comprehensive—addressing the immediate needs but also building resilience and their ability to respond to future shocks. Without partners like Tostan, who have a strong presence within some of our more marginalized communities, this kind of last-mile reach wouldn’t be possible. So we are grateful for this partnership and for the opportunity to impact the lives of so many of our brothers and sisters in Senegal” says Nathalie Akon Gabala, Regional Director West, Central and Northern Africa at the Mastercard Foundation

Young women from a Tostan partner community attend a public declaration to end harmful practices in Matam, Senegal (2018).

Launching officially in the presence of local authorities and elected officials, the project will ensure vulnerable rural communities have resources to build back from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as economic resilience strategies in place to face future destabilizing factors. This includes direct cash transfers to 1,700 households in Kolda through the end of 2020 and an additional 21 communities in Matam in 2021; defining new economic resilience plans with 121 communities in both regions who have completed the Community Empowerment Program – CEP – and have strong Community Management Committees – CMCs – and; resuming the CEP in 20 communities in Matam.

About the Mastercard Foundation

The Mastercard Foundation works with visionary organizations to enable young people in Africa and in Indigenous communities in Canada to access dignified and fulfilling work.  It is one of the largest, private foundations in the world with a mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion to create an inclusive and equitable world. The Foundation was created by Mastercard in 2006 as an independent organization with its own Board of Directors and management.

For more information on the Foundation, please visit: