Sixteen local entrepreneurs in Nakuru and Eldoret are set to benefit from the skills and experience 24 junior bankers to improve their overall business growth, employment, and future investment opportunities.

The junior bankers will spend four and half weeks working with the entrepreneurs courtesy of the Citi volunteers initiative, which is making a return to Kenya where it started in 2016.

Now in the fourth year, Citi on Monday launched Volunteer Africa 2019, a program that engages junior employees to help entrepreneurs grow their businesses.

“Citi is proud to have been operating in Kenya since 1974, serving Corporate and Institutional clients. Volunteer Africa demonstrates Citi’s ongoing commitment to the country, driving economic growth at the community level,” it said in a statement.

Citi joins forces with Balloon Ventures, a social enterprise that runs development programs to give micro-enterprises the training, funding and support needed to grow, create jobs and build communities.

Balloon has identified 16 entrepreneurs that the Citi volunteers will work with throughout the program. The entrepreneurs run a broad range of small businesses including agriculture, small scale manufacturing, agro-processing, media, retail and e*******n.

Manolo Falcó, Global Co-Head of BCMA at Citi, commented: “This is the fourth year of the program and we are immensely excited about what will be achieved and the long term impact for both volunteers and entrepreneurs. The past editions of the program demonstrated the transformational impact that Citi volunteers can make by supporting the entrepreneurs to grow their businesses, employ others and build local economies.”

Tyler Dickson, Global Co-Head of BCMA at Citi, added: “We are particularly pleased that this year the program is becoming even more global.  It will see junior employees from across BCMA and Markets & Securities Services around the world working side-by-side in Kenya, a fantastic and unique opportunity for volunteers to build networks across businesses and geographies.”

Kenya is one of Sub-Saharan Africa’s fastest-growing economies. It boasts a youthful population, improving infrastructure, dynamic private sector, and rich natural resources but it faces the challenges of poverty and inequality. With 75% of the working population employed in the informal sector, there is great scope for entrepreneurial SMEs to provide decent work and drive inclusive economic growth.

The Volunteer Africa program is helping achieve these objectives. Balloon Ventures has undertaken research on the cohort of entrepreneurs who participated in the previous edition in Kenya. The research shows that, on average, entrepreneurs experienced a 41% increase in income and a 53% increase in profit nine months after completing the program.

Paul is one of the entrepreneurs we supported in 2016. He makes sugar cane juice. When Citi volunteers met him, he had a locally made machine to crush raw sugar cane and one member of staff selling his juice from a small shop off the high street.

Since then, he has imported two food grade machines from Asia that enabled him to increase sugar cane juice production by 1000%. He now has two outlets and a team of five agents selling his juice on the streets of Nakuru every day, and his revenue has grown eight times since his participation in the program.

Paco Ybarra, Global Head of Markets & Securities Services, commented: “We are involved in the Volunteer Africa program for the second year, this time at a global level. We have followed the project closely and can see the direct impact it has, not only on the entrepreneurs we work with on the ground, but also for our employees.  It enables Citi’s Junior Bankers to develop their skills, build their knowledge of developing economies, establish strong networks and have the opportunity to affect real change in the community.”

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The Citi Volunteer Africa program launched in April 2016. The pilot edition saw 12 Analysts and Associates from Citi’s Corporate and Investment Bank in EMEA volunteer in Kenya. Since then the program has doubled in size and gone global, with more than 60 volunteers from Citi’s BCMA and Markets & Securities Services businesses around the world participating to date, supporting more than 40 small businesses in Kenya and Uganda.

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