Citi Foundation and TechnoServe Team Up to Tackle Youth Unemployment in Africa

Three grants, totaling $1.3 million, will help provide economic opportunities for 720 young people across five countries

Washington, D.C. (December 5, 2017) – This week, the Citi Foundation and the international nonprofit organization TechnoServe announced three new projects to support young entrepreneurs and workers in Africa through the Citi Foundation’s Pathways to Progress initiative. Over the next fourteen months, the Girls’ Apprenticeship Program (GAP), Pan-African Youth Entrepreneur Development (PAYED), and Mobile Box Shops projects will empower 720 young people in Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, and Uganda to develop entrepreneurial skills and build small businesses.

Sub-Saharan Africa has the fastest-growing youth population in the world, making the creation of high-quality jobs for young people a vital priority for the region. This has been a challenge, however: according to the International Labor Organization, more than two-thirds of young workers live in poverty. In addition, research commissioned by the Citi Foundation’s Pathways to Progress Global Youth Survey 2017 found that 89 percent of young people aged 16-24 in Johannesburg, South Africa, dream of owning their own business. The PAYED, Mobile Box Shops, and GAP projects aim to address this challenge and support young people in attaining their goals by providing tailored support that helps young entrepreneurs and workers build successful businesses.

Pan-African Youth Entrepreneur Development (PAYED)
The PAYED project will help 600 young people find opportunities in the micro-retailing sector in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire; Nairobi, Kenya; and Abuja, Nigeria. Small shops are a vital part of the economy in all three cities, purchasing local products, supplying essential goods for local consumers, and creating jobs for local workers. Nevertheless, the owners and managers of these stores often lack business training, limiting the shops’ potential for growth. The PAYED project will provide young people with training on business skills and personal effectiveness, as well as tailored one-on-one advisory services, so that they can improve operations at current stores or launch new micro-retailing ventures. In addition to TechnoServe’s training, these youth will receive advisory support from 30 corporate volunteers from Citi. PAYED builds on the success of the Smart Dukas, Mom and Pop Shops, and MiniPrix projects, which have helped 600 entrepreneurs and workers in the three countries.

Mobile Box Shops
The Mobile Box Shops project, meanwhile, will build upon previous support from the Citi Foundation and will help 60 unemployed youth in the South African cities of Johannesburg, Pretoria, and Durban build their business skills and run small enterprises. Sixty young people will receive business skills training and personalized advice, including assistance from 20 Citi corporate volunteers, allowing them to operate “mobile box shops” that provide design and field-marketing services to small manufacturers. Among the expected clients for these services are participants in the Box Shop program, a business incubator that the Citi Foundation and TechnoServe have supported since 2015 to provide an opportunity for 240 young entrepreneurs to develop their retail brands. The new Mobile Box Shops project will help expand these entrepreneurs’ footprint beyond the incubator’s retail location in Johannesburg’s famous Soweto township.

The Girls’ Apprenticeship Program (GAP)
The third phase of the Girls’ Apprenticeship Program (GAP) will launch in January and help 60 at-risk young women in and around Kampala, Uganda to find work or start a small business. The program, which will be supported by five Citi corporate volunteers, will connect these young women to successful businesswomen, who will mentor them in trades such as tailoring, hairdressing, and craft production. The participants will also receive training designed to build their self-confidence and soft skills. In a previous iteration of GAP, 83 percent of participants found paid employment or started their own business at the conclusion of the program.

In February 2017, the Citi Foundation expanded their Pathways to Progress initiative globally, committing $100 million over the next three years for empowering 500,000 young people to develop employability skills and entrepreneurial mind-sets. Working alongside leading community organizations and municipal leaders, the Citi Foundation is helping to test and scale proven solutions, and build on the impact achieved so far with partners such as TechnoServe.

“The findings of the Pathways to Progress Global Youth Survey are very clear,” said Karim Seifeddine, Citi’s Public Affairs and Government Relations Head, Middle East and Africa. “Large numbers of young people want to start and run their own business, but often cite a lack of business acumen as a barrier to achieving their goals. Our work with TechnoServe through our Pathways to Progress initiative is addressing these problems head-on by providing young people with the opportunities and training they need to start and run their own businesses successfully. We are proud to support TechnoServe for another year.”

“We are very excited to continue our successful partnership with the Citi Foundation through these three initiatives with such potential for impact,” said TechnoServe CEO and President William Warshauer. “We believe that Africa’s large youth population is not a problem, but rather an opportunity. As we have seen time and again, with the right training and support, Africa’s young people can build competitive small businesses that grow the local economy, create jobs, and enhance opportunities for themselves and their communities.”

About TechnoServe
TechnoServe is a leader in harnessing the power of the private sector to help people lift themselves out of poverty. A nonprofit organization operating in 30 countries, we work with enterprising men and women in the developing world to build competitive farms, businesses and industries. By linking people to information, capital and markets, we have helped millions to create lasting prosperity for their families and communities. TechnoServe has earned a 4-star rating from independent evaluator Charity Navigator for the last 11 years, placing us in the top 1 percent of all its rated nonprofits.

With nearly 50 years of proven results, TechnoServe believes in the power of private enterprise to transform lives.

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Citi Foundation
The Citi Foundation works to promote economic progress and improve the lives of people in low-income communities around the world. We invest in efforts that increase financial inclusion, catalyze job opportunities for youth, and reimagine approaches to building economically vibrant cities. The Citi Foundation's “More than Philanthropy” approach leverages the enormous expertise of Citi and its people to fulfill our mission and drive thought leadership and innovation. For more information, visit