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Corporate director Pamela Flaherty talks about NY Citi

Update: August, 26/2008 - 00:00

Corporate director Pamela Flaherty talks about NY Citi

(27-08-2008)

What is the Citi Foundation and what does it do?

The Citi Foundation is based in New York and it is the philanthropic arm of Citi, the leading global financial services company. The Citi Foundation is committed to enhancing economic opportunities for under-served individuals and families in the communities where we work so that these groups can improve their standard of living.

Globally, the Citi Foundation focuses its grant giving on microfinance and microentrepreneurship, which helps individuals become economically self-sufficient; small and growing businesses lead to economic expansion and job creation; education, which prepares young people for personal and professional success; financial education, which helps individuals make informed financial decisions; and the environment, with a focus on sustainable enterprises that generate jobs and stimulate economic growth while preserving the environment.

In 2007, the Citi Foundation gave US$95.6 million, of which 44 per cent was given outside the United States.

How does Citi support microfinance programmes globally?

Over the past decade, the Citi Foundation has contributed more than $60 million to 250 microfinance institutions, microfinance networks and microenterprise programmes in 55 countries.

Since 1997, in Asia alone, the Citi Foundation has committed more than $18 million in funding for microfinance-related programmes.

More importantly, in addition to our funding, we support the microfinance sector through many other activities such as facilitating engagement with Citi business managers, promoting the exchange of information and best practices, making introductions to other players in the industry and sponsoring and participating in symposiums.

Recently, we announced the Citi Network Strengthening Program, a three-year, $11.2 million global initiative launched in 2008 in collaboration with the Small Enterprise Education and Promotion (SEEP) Network. An example of how this project benefits microfinance networks is the Asia Network Summit, organised by the region’s Banking With The Poor Network and SEEP in Ha Noi earlier this week. This was the first Asia-wide gathering of microfinance networks, including the Vietnam Microfinance Working Group, and has already contributed to improving dialogue between networks across the region.

Citi has also established a microfinance business group that works across the Citi businesses, product groups and with employees to establish commercial relationships with the microfinance sector to build scale, lower costs and introduce new products. Since it started in 2005, Citi Microfinance has established commercial relationships with more than 70 MFIs in over 35 countries in Latin America, Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East, as well as global microfinance networks, specialised fund managers and investors.

How has Citi supported the development of microfinance in Viet Nam?

Since 2001, through Citi Foundation grants, Citi Vietnam has given VND3.3 billion ($168,000) to Save the Children US to support its microfinance programme in Thanh Hoa and enable more than 10,000 women from low-income households to start their own microenterprises. Today, it is one of the few examples of microfinance programmes in Viet Nam that has become financially sustainable.

In 2007, in partnership with the Vietnam Microfinance Working Group and its secretariat, the Microfinance and Development Centre, we launched the Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards to promote microentrepreneurship and increase awareness of microfinance in Viet Nam. In its inaugural year, 60 exceptional microfinance clients and 30 credit officers from rural and remote areas of Viet Nam received awards.

In 2007, Citi Vietnam gave a Citi Foundation grant to another microfinance provider, the Binh Minh Community Development Company, to initiate a financial literacy project in Dong Anh District. Based on a Citi Foundation-funded global financial education curriculum for the poor, this programme is developing customised Vietnamese-language financial education materials for microfinance clients and aims to improve the financial literacy of 15,000 microfinance clients by 2010. — VNS

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