Young refugees to benefit from Citi, IRC’s $2mn entrepreneurship grant
Young refugees between the ages of 16 and 24 in Nigeria’s northeast, are among potential beneficiaries of a two million dollar grant that includes, business training and start-up grants through the Citi Foundation’s ‘Pathways to Progress Initiative’.
The grant is the result of a new partnership launched on tuesday between the Citi Foundation and the International Rescue Committee (IRC). It aims to provide refugees, young people displaced within their own countries, and vulnerable youth from the communities hosting them, with support to help them generate a reliable income and contribute to their local economy.
Citi in a statement after the formal launching of the partnership, noted that, throughout the two-year project, Rescuing Futures, nearly 1,000 young people across three cities; Athens in Greece, Amman in Jordan and Yola in northeast Nigeria, will be supported to start their own businesses.
In Nigeria, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) records that; since 2009 when violent conflicts started in the north-east, up to 2.1 million people fled their homes at the height of the conflict, 1.9 million of whom are currently internally displaced (as at June 2017) and over 200, 000 people are still in Cameroon, Chad and Niger, after having been forced to flee. In the three most affected states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe, almost 7 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, more than 50 per cent of whom are children.
Citi’s intervention in Nigeria will focus on Yola in Adamawa state, one of the three most affected states in the country.
David Miliband, president and CEO, International Rescue Committee, said: “The IRC’s partnership with the Citi Foundation represents a best-in-class global public-private partnership.
“The IRC has unique expertise in working with conflict-affected populations and the urban-displaced to build economic resilience. Alongside the Citi Foundation’s Pathways to Progress initiative, a commendable commitment to investing in the futures of young people, this project will have a life-changing impact on some of the most marginalized youth around the world.”
The humanitarian landscape is changing; 60% of the world’s refugees, and 80% of internally displaced people, now live in urban areas, and four-fifths live in developing countries that can least afford to host them. There are more young people in the world now than ever before – 1.2 billion – and they face huge challenges with employment.
Jim Cowles, CEO of Citi Europe Middle East and Africa (EMEA) also described the Pathways to Progress initiative as “our solution to securing positive futures for vulnerable young people. Working with the IRC will enable us to invest in some of EMEA’s most vulnerable youth and put them on a sustainable economic path.
“Given today’s context, well-designed interventions like Rescuing Futures can address inequality of opportunity, and positively impact community well being and economic growth,” said Cowles.
The Citi Foundation, according to the company’s press statement, is a longstanding supporter of the IRC, helping to fund their Research & Development and emergency work in recent years. This year saw the expansion of the Citi Foundation’s Pathways to Progress initiative globally with a $100million commitment to reach 500,000 young people with entrepreneurship and employability training before 2020.
Alongside the $2 million grant from the Citi Foundation, a further $8 million has been committed across EMEA to support programmes under the Citi Foundation’s Pathways to Progress initiative and contribute to UN Sustainable Development Goal 8: reducing youth unemployment. Grants include $1.6 million to Youth Business International, $1.3 million to TechnoServe, $450,000 to United States African Development Foundation, and $450,000 to Ruwwad Al-Tanmeya.
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