The Citi Foundation’s grant program is focused on making change in India by addressing the socio-economic challenges faced by vulnerable youths. It has invested US$2 million in six youth-focused programs through its 2016 India Innovation Grant Program (IIGP), part of Pathways to Progress, the Citi Foundation’s global initiative. This investment prepares these disadvantaged youths by helping them to gain an entrepreneurial mindset, to acquire leadership, financial and workplace skills, and crucially, to begin to engage in the formal economy through a first job. The 2016 IIGP, launched last February, aligns with the Government of India’s ‘Skill India’ mission to empower 13,000 youths, aged between 16-25 years from low-income families.
Since 2014, IIGP has invested close to USD$4 million, in fifteen innovative and sustainable financial education and capability programs, benefitting more than 880,000 individuals across India. The 2016 IIGP six non-profit organisations chosen were – ChildFund India; Foundation of MSME Clusters (FMC); Learning Links Foundation; Pratham Education Foundation; Samarthanam Trust for the Disabled and TechnoServe Inc. Together, these organisations are expected to bring about meaningful behavioral change.
For example, ChildFund India will introduce 1,000 tribal women from below-the-poverty line families located in 20 villages in Madhya Pradesh to poultry farming. It will develop their entrepreneurship and leadership skills while creating supply-chain and financial links for them. The Foundation for MSME Clusters has a special ‘Embroidery to Employment’program to restore the dying and historic art of embroidery. It will provide on-the-job leadership and entrepreneurial training to 500 artisans in Agra and Uttar Pradesh, helping to enhance their income between 30 to 50 percent by developing new skillsets. A Design/Product Innovation Centre will be created to support ideas, marketing and community enterprises.
Learning Links Foundation: Youth Empowerment Series for Micro-Entrepreneurs Program will impart entrepreneurial digital, financial literacy skills and English-speaking training to 2,400 youth in Pune, Chennai, Bangalore and the National Capital Region. Pratham Education Foundation will support 7,000 urban youth migrants in Mumbai and Delhi; and the Samarthanam Trust for the Disabled will enable 600 differently abled underprivileged youth in the National Capital Region, Hyderabad and Mumbai gain employment in sectors such as IT, retail, banking and hospitality. It will also support the higher education of 150 differently abled and underprivileged youth. Lastly, TechnoServe Inc will train 1,250 college students at centers, creating placement opportunities.
All these programs supported this year correspond to the findings of Accelerating Pathways research that Citi Foundation commissioned with The Economist Intelligence Unit, where a key finding noted that in Mumbai, the main challenge young people face in the labour market despite increasing public investment in vocational skills training, is that the gap between skill levels and employability remains vast. The research highlights that young people offer talent that can be a powerful engine for cities’ growth, along with enduring optimism and energy about their futures; which is why Citi’s efforts over the past 16 years, are vital. It has benefited more than 2.5 million people here, all which has added to India’s growth.
Photo Credit: IIGP/Citi Foundation