Kepler Partners with the Mastercard Foundation to Improve Access to Higher Education for Refugee and Host Community Youth




[Kigali, Rwanda — January 3, 2022]: Kepler has partnered with the Mastercard Foundation to expand the Iteme preparation program in Rwanda and Ethiopia. Through the Iteme program, Kepler prepares refugee and host community youth, with a focus on younp women, to access tertiary education through skill building, access to information, and tailored support with admissions processes.

Since 2018, Kepler’s Iteme program has served 650 secondary school graduates across Rwanda’s six refugee camps and Kigali. Iteme targets refugee youth as well as Rwandans from vulnerable economic backgrounds. At least 50% of Iteme participants have successfully secured opportunities for further studies, training, or employment within three months of completing the Iteme program.

A current Iteme participant, Prisca Umwizerwa, reflected on how the program has already improved her self-confidence. “I know now that I don’t have to be afraid of speaking out or providing my opinion. You never know what your opinions will brinp to your society.”

Through the partnership with the Mastercard Foundation, Kepler is piloting several programmatic changes to further grow Iteme’s positive outcomes. This includes expanded monitoring of program graduates, which will help in understanding the long-term impact of the Iteme program on participants. The Mastercard Foundation is also leveraging its university network to identify potential scholarship opportunities for youth participating in Iteme in Rwanda and Ethiopia.

The curriculum focuses on English language development, soft skills, basic technology, and numeracy. Participants are introduced to a variety of opportunities to continue their studies through tertiary education scholarships or specialized training programs. Kepler connects with available scholarship opportunities, advocates directly with tertiary education institutions, and invites interested parties to recruit directly from Iteme. Participants also receive one-on-one advising and support with scholarship and university application processes.

“We are excited to partner with the Mastercard Foundation to provide refugee and host community students with soft and technology skills, building their confidence and equipping them for not only their entry into higher education, but also ensuring post- graduation success,” said Nathalie Munyampenda, Kepler Chief Executive Officer.

The Mastercard Foundation’s Scholars Program, which allows students whose talent and promise exceed their financial resources to complete their education, is expanding access to university for refugee youth. The Iteme program aligns with the Scholars Program mission while also creating a potential pipeline of exceptional candidates for university scholarships. Iteme will allow a broader audience of refugee and host community youth to access information about the Scholars Program and receive support in applying for connected opportunities.

“Mastercard Foundation is excited to partner with Kepler to enable equitable access to quality education for young refugees in Rwanda and Ethiopia to reach their full potential and to drive socio-economic transformation in their communities,” said Philip Cotton, Director, Human Capital Development, Mastercard Foundation.

Click here to find out more about the Iteme preparatory program from our participants.

About Kepler

Since our launch in 2013, Kepler’s mission has been to provide a genuine pathway for marginalized youth to exit poverty. We provide a different kind of education — one that combines in-person, online and on-the-job learning in service of a singular goal: decent jobs for young Africans. Kepler, through a partnership with Southern New Hampshire University, has enrolled more than 1,000 students across our campuses in Kigali and the Kiziba refugee camp in Western Rwanda. The majority of these students come from vulnerable backgrounds — 50% are women, and more than 25% are refugee learners. Ninety percent of all Kepler students are employed within six months of graduation.

To learn more about Kepler, please visit

About the Mastercard Foundation

The Mastercard Foundation works with visionary organizations to enable younp 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.

To learn more about the Foundation, please visit

Media Contacts

For more information, please contact:

For Kepler

Ashley Haywood

Senior Director of Reporting & Humanitarian Initiatives

For Mastercard Foundation

Nicolas Emane

Partner, Program Communications