“I am going to university as a symbol of hope to my community that anything is possible. I carry my community’s yearning for someone to make a significant change, someone to break the cycle of poverty.” – “Busi” Sbusisiwe Sibeko

About the Program

About the Program

A world-class education at Duke University, supported by $13.5 million in funding from The MasterCard Foundation, fosters growth and development in a select group of students from Sub-Saharan Africa and other developing areas.

At Duke, scholars work with professors who have decades of experience leading projects in Africa. Through challenging classes, research opportunities, and programs designed especially for these students, The MasterCard Foundation Scholars at Duke are provided the educational tools needed to become leaders. Duke recognizes education is a catalyst for social and economic betterment. This visionary program creates a pipeline of leaders for a global society. Duke is proud to be among a select group of institutions participating in the program’s inaugural year.

Interview: Charlie Piot

“I am thrilled to have these students coming from Africa to Duke each year, and perhaps returning to make their countries better places.”

Charlie Piot, professor in Cultural Anthropology and in African and African American Studies guides The MasterCard Foundation Scholars at Duke as their faculty director. With more than 25 years conducting research in West Africa and studying issues on the continent, Piot explains why this program is needed to help solve a core problem in Africa… the exodus of highly educated people.

The Support Team

The Support Team

The entire Duke University community supports The MasterCard Foundation Scholars, inside the classroom and out. Three people play key roles in the success of the program and the scholars at Duke.

Julia Coleman

Julia Coleman joins the Office of Undergraduate Scholars and Fellows as the Administrative Assistant for The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program. Julia brings eight years of experience working with and nurturing graduate students from all over the globe in Duke’s International House.

Charlie Piot

Charlie Piot, Professor in Cultural Anthropology and in African and African American Studies guides the MasterCard Foundation Scholars at Duke as their faculty director. With more than 25 years conducting research in West Africa and study issues on the continent, Dr. Piot knows and cares about Africa.

Liz Mathenge

Liz, a native of Kenya, is an MD and Masters in Global Health Candidate in the Duke University School of Medicine. “In addition to my interest in medicine, I am deeply interested in access to education for young people in sub-Saharan Africa.  I see myself in all the MCF scholars, and for this reason I deeply enjoy working with them as they begin to map out the rest of their lives.”


Learn More

The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program

The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program is a $500 million education initiative that addresses access to education and employment for talented yet economically disadvantaged students from developing countries – particularly in Africa. This initiative will offer 15,000 students a comprehensive package for secondary and university education that includes financial, academic, and social support, as well as transitional assistance into the workforce. The Program is unique in its emphasis on selecting students who are committed to “giving back” to their communities and their countries of origin.

The program was announced in September 2012 at a United Nations Special Session marking the launch of Education First. Led by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Special Envoy for Education Gordon Brown, Education First is a new initiative seeking to ensure all children have access to quality education. The U.N. Special Session highlighted The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program as an innovative model for educating young people and encouraging citizenship. To learn more visit www.mastercardfdnscholars.org.

The MasterCard Foundation

The MasterCard Foundation advances microfinance and youth learning to promote financial inclusion and prosperity. Through collaboration with committed partners in 49 countries, the Foundation is helping people living in poverty to access opportunities to learn and prosper. An independent, private foundation based in Toronto, Canada, it was established through the generosity of MasterCard Worldwide at the time of the company’s initial public offering in 2006. For more information, visit www.mastercardfdn.org.

The MasterCard Foundation/Duke University Partnership

Duke University and The MasterCard Foundation share a common history of forming and utilizing partnerships to maximize opportunities for education.

Like The MasterCard Foundation, Duke thinks and acts globally. Duke leaders believe education is the key to improving the lives of people on all continents. Duke and the MasterCard Foundation share a common strategy of creating change agents. We show our students how to apply knowledge to real world issues.

For Duke, The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program is not only a natural fit, but also the type of collaboration the university actively seek as a progressive institution, providing liberal education in the context of a world-class research university. Duke will provide interdisciplinary ways of thinking, encouraging young people from Africa to discover creative and  collaborative ways to address education, health, employment, and economic issues.

Reeta Roy

President and CEO of The MasterCard Foundation

Reeta Roy, President and CEO of The MasterCard Foundation, discusses why Duke is a great institution for scholars from Africa.


Steve Nowicki

Dean of Undergraduate Education at Duke

Steve Nowicki explains how the university plans to support the growth of The MasterCard Foundation Scholars and how thrilled the campus is to welcome the first five scholars.

Participating Universities and Institutions

Duke and many other organizations share in The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program. The model is unique, in that it leverages education as a powerful driver of social and economic progress in Africa.

Duke University
Michigan State University
Arizona State University
University of California, Berkley

The future of Africa will be shaped by its young people. The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program has selected world-class universities and non-profit institutions to provide them with skills to develop leadership and critical thinking skills, analyze problems and solve them through collaboration.


Over the next 10 years, The MasterCard Foundation will enable 15,000 students from developing countries –  primarily from Africa-  to access quality secondary and university education and leadership development so they are able to contribute to Africa’s place in the global economy.  There are currently 145 Scholars enrolled at Duke, Arizona State, Michigan State, University of California – Berkeley, American University of Beirut – Faculty of Health Sciences (Lebanon), Ashesi University (Ghana), and EARTH University (Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean). Graduates from the African Leadership Academy have been placed in universities worldwide. The program in the U.S. also includes Stanford and Wellesley, where scholars will begin attending in 2013.



How to Apply

The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program at Duke is open to students from sub-Saharan Africa who demonstrate financial need, academic ability and merit, and demonstrated commitment to improving the lives of others in their communities. Students apply to Duke first, and are then considered for The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program. The following links may be of assistance.

In addition to merit, a few of our scholarships also require demonstration of financial need. Please provide the Financial Aid office with all necessary documentation, no later than the first week in March, to optimize consideration for scholarship awards.

News & Events

Find the latest information on The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program, individual scholar projects / accomplishments, and The MasterCard Foundation.

Africa Untold
Africa Untold
What’s Your Africa – Shanen Ganapathee Shares Her Vision
What's Your Africa - Shanen Ganapathee Shares Her Vision
Florence Tesha in China
Florence Tesha in China

One of Duke’s great advantages for The MasterCard Foundation Scholars is the network of resources the university provides to scholars, their families, and students who are interested in the program.


Duke Students: Who are They?