The innovative programme ‘Mastercard Foundation Accelerating Impact for Young Women in partnership with BRAC’ (AIM) is Mastercard Foundation’s flagship pan-African gender programme developed under its new Gender Strategy.
Delivered with Stichting BRAC International (BRAC), this long-term social change programme seeks to improve the quality of life of 1.2 million Adolescent Girls and Young Women (AGYW) in seven African countries. It sets out to understand and address some of the structural barriers to gender equality, in particular, attitudes, behaviours, and social norms to create an environment that values and supports AGYW.
The initiative focuses on various stages of the life cycle of young women, ensuring they are able to transition safely from adolescence into adulthood, and equipping them with the skills, tools, and access to finance necessary to exercise their agency and build a sustainable livelihood. Some of AIM’s goals are to foster the agency and voice of AGYW to act on their aspirations; enable AGYW to engage in sustainable livelihoods; create an enabling environment for AGYW, and support AGYW to engage in advocacy.
Mastercard Foundation commissioned Itad to deliver the AIM Inception Review to assess progress in AIM’s six-month inception phase (during 2022) and to validate the proposed future direction over the remaining five-and-a-half-year implementation phase. The Review emphasis was to provide practical support and act as a critical friend to foster effective programme delivery.
Our assessment focussed on two main aspects of the inception phase: 1) to what extent BRAC was ready to begin implementing AIM, and 2) how the theory of change was translated into practical and innovative interventions with potential to be delivered at scale.
Our methods & approaches
The Inception Review was primarily a formative evaluation. It focussed on assessing the feasibility and relevance of the implementation approach to ensure BRAC was ready to implement and it provided recommendations on how to course-correct at this early stage.
The three main components evaluated in the Review were:
1) ‘Progress to date’ – focusing on how well the Inception Phase was implemented.
2) ‘Implementation plans’ – assessing the extent to which there was a logical flow between the underlying theory of the design and the implementation plans.
3) ‘Capacity to implement’ – exploring the current policies and systems, staff capacity and organisational culture to understand how ready the BRAC team were to implement.
The methodology of the Inception Review included a comprehensive desk review of the programme’s background documentation and two case studies of the seven countries involved, Liberia and Uganda. We also gathered primary data by conducting key informant interviews with stakeholders from global and national levels and country- and field-office staff, and through focus group discussions (FGDs) including with young women in the two case study countries.
The evaluation process aimed to deploy a more equitable partnership for evaluation where evaluators, donors and implementors worked jointly in a supportive way at all times. Together, the Itad review team and regional staff from Mastercard Foundation and BRAC co-created findings and recommendations through collaborative workshops held in November and December 2022.
Outcomes & impact
Based on this Inception Review we found AIM was, by and large, ready to implement. We identified that, during the inception phase, BRAC brought on board multidisciplinary country teams with the required blend of skills, set up robust management systems and designed detailed evidence-informed Standard Operating Procedure Guidelines. We found that the AIM leadership team approached challenges in the inception phase in a thoughtful and adaptive way.
Based on the findings from our Review, Itad presented evidence-based recommendations that addressed areas to strengthen, building on the existing systems and processes. Mastercard Foundation and BRAC began to act on these recommendations immediately after our workshops. We expect our recommendations to enhance programme delivery and contribute overall to a better enabling environment for AGYW in the countries of work.