Lead, Research Strengthening


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 lead, research strengthening professional looking to increase your impact, read on!


Reporting to the Head of Research Strengthening and Knowledge Mobilization, The Lead, Research Strengthening will lead knowledge development and research strengthening enterprise-wide to further Young Africa Works and other Foundation’s program objectives. They will contribute to and lead the delivery of the five-year research and knowledge development agenda as it applies to strengthening young researchers in Africa and among indigenous communities in Canada and developing partnerships to advance institutional strengthening of research organizations and networks in Africa. They will also respond to immediate research questions, providing quality assurance for diagnostic, R&D and other research to enable programming across   programs.

The successful candidate will be based in Canada or any of our listed offices in Africa (Rwanda, Ghana, Kenya)


Lead the design of strengthening research. systems/processes/protocols across programs to ensure high-quality research design, implementation, and analysis.
Collaborate with programs teams to identify and address research questions to enhance effectiveness of programs and partnerships that emphasize inclusion of young researchers and youth-led organizations in alignment with the YAW strategy.
Working with the team they will contribute to building a culture that encourages inclusivity in evidence-informed decision making.
Contribute to conducting, collating, commissioning and synthesizing research and initiatives on institutional strengthening of both nationally mandated and other knowledge institutions s to support knowledge building and program co-design & review processes.
Working with the team, they will collaborate across programs to co-develop research partnerships aligned with needs and knowledge development strategy.
Working with the team they will develop and ensure quality control of internal & externally commissioned institution-strengthening initiatives and provide knowledge support.
Contribute to developing the Research Strategy & build research strengthening agenda and knowledge expertise to address long-term strategic questions on global development and youth empowerment.
Lead the engagement with local stakeholders and foundation’s programs teams to determine priority research and intervention needs.
Provide access to best-in-class external research and knowledge for research capacity building/accompaniment and research institutional strengthening initiatives.
Working with the team will commission research projects and other knowledge products for Foundation’s thought leadership and also to enhance the international development field.
Write and publish learnings on the Foundations programs to influence best practice internally and externally.
Disseminate relevant learnings and insights to internal and external audiences.
Working with the team will develop strong global and in-region relationships with external research partners.
Lead research partnerships with the programs team on proposal development and review to provide technical input on institutional strengthening in proposals.
Working with the team, build and strengthen the capacity of others to deliver high quality research, analysis, publications, and documentation.
Under the guidance of the Research Heads, act with team members as subject matter experts for Foundation regional research work.

PHD./Master’s/MBA in global development, the social sciences, education, public policy or another related field is an asset.
Leadership experience in education, the social sciences and humanities, development and/or public policy within non-profit organizations, international NGO’s and/or learning institutions.
Expertise in research strengthening in development, social science and policy research across Africa and indigenous communities in Canada.
Understanding of the ecosystem of research strengthening and capacity building in Africa and current trends in methodologies and approaches, especially in economic transformation/growth and development policy.
Experience in effectively engaging with technical experts and institutions to build communities of practice.
Ability to plan for and prioritize multiple enterprise-wide initiatives with varying timelines.
Some success in building and managing high performing teams with proven success.
Strong research strengthening and capacity building skills (including non-conventional and emerging inclusive approaches) with the ability to translate knowledge to technical and non-technical teams.
Fluency in other languages relevant to the work; French would be desirable.
Strong verbal, written, and presentation skills with the ability to articulate information to a variety of constituents across cultures.
Curious and enthusiastic about pursuing new avenues of strengthening research. Open to the ideas of others and shares knowledge and insight from a place of humility.
Ability to communicate effectively with and relate to a broad range of internal stakeholders including Foundation leadership.
Service mindset, and commitment to the value of co-creation, employing deep listening and authentically inclusive approach.
Energetic, independent, and self-motivated individual with a solution-based approach while demonstrating innovation, integrity, quality, creativity, flexibility, and resilience.
Innovative and entrepreneurial individual.


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About Mastercard Foundation

The Mastercard Foundation seeks a world where everyone has the opportunity to learn and prosper.

All people, no matter where their starting point in life, should have an equal chance to succeed. We believe that with access to education, financial services, and skills training, people can have that chance.