Junior Achievement (JA) Africa and Citi Foundation have renewed their partnership to deliver the ‘Pathways to Progress” initiative. Pathways to Progress, announced in 2017, is Citi’s response to the global challenge of unemployment. Citi commits, by 2020, to invest an additional $100 million to impact the lives of 500,000 youth globally. Citi will also engage at least 10,000 employees as volunteers to serve as mentors, coaches and role models to young people in support of their career progress and aspirations. Pathways to Progress aims to improve the quality of the youth workforce.
The JA/Citi partnership, which began in 1996 and is now in its 23rd year, has created shared value in nine countries to date through a number of youth-empowering projects. In Gabon, Citi and JA collaborated on an Open Day last academic year, which brought together local stakeholders to discuss the future of job opportunities in the Cultural and Creative Art Industry for Gabonese youth. Similarly, in Zambia, Citi staff facilitated business planning and coaching sessions for students as part of a Peer Review Program organized by JA Zambia.
The grant from Citi Foundation to JA Africa this year will support two key JA programs the JA Company Program, Junior Achievement’s global flagship entrepreneurial education program for secondary school students and the ITS TYME (Immersion Training Strategy Targeting Young Marginalized Entrepreneurs) Program for marginalized out of school youth in Africa. The aim is to provide Africa’s youth with training that develops their understanding of business and entrepreneurship, and builds the skills they require to establish and manage businesses. The programs will be implemented in Gabon, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia, with a goal of jointly reaching 4,850 youth. Additionally, JA Africa will create and produce an interactive online entrepreneurship curriculum, specifically developed for young African learners, with the goal of reaching 1,000 young Africans.
According to the World Bank, currently 60% of the unemployed in Africa are young people. Each year millions of young Africans graduate out of educational institutions into a labor market that has few opportunities for employment. To counter this problem, JA Africa has adapted global-standard delivery mechanisms to meet the needs of the unemployed and underemployed youth in Africa, enabling them to become economically self-reliant. The programs delivered under this partnership with Citi builds the capacity of young Africans, enabling them to establish and manage businesses that create employment for themselves and others, as well as make positive changes in their financial behavior such as increased savings.
“The grant funding that Citi provides to JA Africa annually contributes significantly to our ability to carry out our mission each year,” says Elizabeth Bintliff, CEO of JA Africa. But across the seven countries where Citi funds our work, it is not just the dollars that make the difference, it is also the people. The fact that Citi staff give so generously of their time to mentor and coach our students is one of the greatest contributors to the success of this initiative. The stories our alumni tell testify that the difference the involvement and engagement of Citi volunteers make in their lives is enormous.”
In addition to program funding, Citi is also sponsoring JA Africa’s 2019 Regional Company of the Year (COY) Competition as part of this partnership. COY, Africa’s premier business pitching competition for high school age entrepreneurs, brings together students from the 15 African countries where JA works to compete for prizes, including the Citi Foundation Client Focus Award. The award recognizes the company that exhibits exceptional leadership in client satisfaction and a high level of commitment to quality customer service.
Citi Foundation’s “More than Philanthropy” approach leverages the enormous expertise of Citi and its people to fulfill their mission and drives thought leadership and innovation. The power of the partnership lies in the fact that this aligns closely with JA Africa’s goals as part of a global network, to build human capacity of youth in Africa and around the world