27 of Citi's junior bankers have begun working with 18 Ugandan entrepreneurs as part of Citi's Volunteer Africa program, in partnership with Balloon Ventures.
This is now the third year of the program and we are immensely excited about what will be achieved and the long term impact for both volunteers and entrepreneurs. We are particularly pleased that this year will see Analysts and Associates from across global CIB, CMO and EMEA Markets and Securities Services working together – a fantastic opportunity to build networks across businesses and geographies.
The combination of Citi's junior talent working alongside high potential entrepreneurs is a powerful one. Over the next four and a half weeks the Citi volunteers will set out to learn about the businesses they are working with, help identify business priorities, test ideas, then transfer learning and empower entrepreneurs to scale their businesses.
The volunteers will also work with the entrepreneurs to build their business plans and pitch for funds from Citi (a fund administered by our partner, Balloon Ventures, in the form of low interest loans) to support growth plans.
Ultimately this program is about achieving a positive impact. Firstly, supporting the entrepreneurs to grow their businesses, employ others and build local economies. Also to enable Citi's junior bankers to develop their skills, build their knowledge of developing economies and establish strong networks with colleagues across the firm.
We already know that Volunteer Africa is helping us achieve these objectives. Balloon Ventures has undertaken research on the first cohort of entrepreneurs and volunteers who participated in Volunteer Africa. You can read the findings here. On average entrepreneurs experienced a 41% increase in income and a 53% increase in profit 9 months after completing the program, whilst our volunteers all said they had increased their knowledge of developing markets, enhanced their ability to build relationships with clients and built resilience.
Another exciting development of the program is the alignment with the Citi Foundation's Pathways to Progress initiative. In 2017, the Foundation made a $250,000 grant to Voluntary Service Overseas who have been working with Balloon Ventures to prepare young people to volunteer in the cities in Uganda and Kenya.
A central theme of Pathways to Progress is preparing young people for the world of work. The 2017 grant is therefore supporting VSO to train youth, providing them with employability skills; whilst Balloon works with entrepreneurs to help them continue to build their businesses and hire youth when they need new employees.
In the first 6 months of the Citi Foundation funded program, we have already seen over 400 young people provided with training, 20 businesses have received 10,000 hours of support and 18 jobs have been created for young people.
We look forward to monitoring the impact of this year's program. Citi really is making a difference in these communities.
Please join us in wishing our volunteers an exciting and impactful program in Uganda. You can follow their progress on social media by searching for #VolunteerAfrica.