As part of its Foundation’s Pathways to Progress initiative to connect urban youth to training, jobs and entrepreneurship opportunities, financial services group Citi has granted $250, 000 to Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) to support entrepreneurship and youth employment in Uganda and Kenya.
The funding will facilitate a youth skills-building programme to address youth unemployment and develop a talent pipeline for growing small businesses by VSO.
It will also enable Balloon Ventures, the social enterprise that is a major partner in the project to establish information hubs to provide advice, business support and technical expertise to participating entrepreneurs.
At least 50 small and micro-enterprises are expected to participate with 500 youth expected to benefit over the coming year.
The grant will support projects in Gulu, Jinja and Mbale in Uganda and Machakos in Kenya, building up on Citi’s Volunteer Africa programme which in 2016 took place in Nakuru, Kenya.
“We have been impressed by the vision, drive and commitment of small business owners in both Uganda and Kenya and we realise how much can be achieved when they have access to the right business advice and support,” Maolo Falco, Head, EMEA Corporate and Investment Banking, Citi.
The programme will also provide youth with skills to enable them secure jobs.
Chris Walker, Director of Private Sector Engagement, VSO said that it is estimated that one in five Kenyan youth are out of work and youth unemployment is on the rise in Uganda.
“We’re delighted to be building on, as part of our Knowledge Exchange programme, the leadership and initiative Citi volunteers have shown in helping young people find employment, and coaching them to become the entrepreneurs of the future. This is just another example of the key role that the private sector can play in global efforts to tackle poverty and deliver on the Sustainable Development Goals,” he added.
Twenty four junior bankers from Citi offices globally are currently working with 16 small businesses for five weeks to help them drive growth and secure investment.
Expressing his organization’s commitment to the programme Josh Bicknell, co-founder and CEO, Balloon Ventures said entrepreneurs running their own businesses will help eradicate poverty.