Absa Group has announced that it will this year award over 3000 scholarships across 12 countries as part of its continued commitment to education. In the past two years, Absa has funded over 6,500 university scholarships for young people across Africa.

In addition to this, Absa will also provide scholarships to 50 of the Mandela 100 Scholars to attend the African Leadership University (ALU) in Rwanda.  As part of the commitment, half of the ALU scholarships will be set aside for female students, in an effort to address gender inequality in access to education and employment.

Speaking at the Nelson Mandela Centenary Celebration Dinner last night, Absa Group Chief Executive Maria Ramos paid tribute to the legacy of President Mandela and his emphasis on educating the youth, saying: “For us as an organisation, this is about investing in the future. This is so that we can create generations of young people who will aspire to be the very best they can be and own the future of our country and our continent. This is what underpins our ambition to do all we can to ensure that the youth of our country and continent have a better future.”

The CEO Scholarship Fund was established in 2016, when the group was still known as Barclays Africa Group Limited. Following a separation from London’s Barclays PLC in 2017 and a name-change on South Africa’s JSE on 11 July 2018, Absa Group will now begin a two year re-branding campaign across all its operations on the continent.

The objective of the Mandela Centennial Scholars Programme is to honour President Mandela’s Legacy and carry forward the important work he began in education, by giving the opportunity to 100 outstanding young Africans from disadvantaged backgrounds to attend the ALU. These students will benefit from a full scholarship and unparalleled opportunities for leadership development.

Ramos adds: “Part of Madiba’s legacy challenges us to be defiant and defeat injustice and suffering. Poverty, unemployment and inequality are the existential challenges of our time.”

The Scholarships are part of Absa’s social promise to be an active force for good across all communities in which it operates. Education and Skills Development has been a key pillar of the banking group’s active citizenship, and includes partnering on the YES initiative, funding university research and institutional chairs, as well as offering the free ReadytoWork programme to help youth transition from education to the world of work and self-employment.