Citi and the Citi Foundation today announced support for two initiatives with a mission to advance the financial inclusion and economic empowerment of women around the world. The Citi Foundation and Citi Women have launched a Vital Voices program to connect a global network of women business leaders with women entrepreneurs to grow their small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and foster broader economic opportunity. Working with Women’s World Banking (WWB), the Citi Foundation also announced its support for the Women in Leadership program developed by WWB’s Center for Microfinance Leadership. The announcement comes on the eve of International Women’s Day, which Citi will mark with more than 190 events in 87 countries around the world to foster inspiration and recognize women for great achievements in economic and social progress.
“Having a team that reflects the diversity of our clients and communities is critical to our success as a global organization,” said Citi CEO Michael Corbat. “In addition to the activities we have planned for International Women’s Day, we’re proud to announce collaborations with Vital Voices and Women’s World Banking that will enhance economic opportunities for women around the world for years to come.”
The Citi Foundation’s collaboration with Vital Voices will enable them to expand their core programming, addressing a critical need to provide training and assistance to underserved women-owned SMEs in key countries across sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa. Leveraging local, regional and global partnerships, Vital Voices will match women entrepreneurs with business leaders from Citi and other companies to strengthen their decision-making power and effectiveness as business owners, and catalyze the sustainable growth of their businesses. The collaboration will benefit from a $165,000 investment from the Citi Foundation and the reach of Citi Women, a company-wide effort to foster the ongoing development of women leaders, from recruitment to senior management, as well as Citi clients in the diversity dialogue.
“Across Citi we have a large network of women business leaders with a wide array of skills and experience,” said Deborah Mcwhinney, Chief Operating Officer, Citi Global Enterprise Payments, and Co-Head of Citi Women. “We are excited about the opportunity to link our employees with Vital Voices’ entrepreneurs that have the commitment and tenacity but may lack connections or technical expertise needed to take their business to a level where they can contribute to broader economic development by creating jobs.”A long standing Citi partner, WWB created the Center for Microfinance Leadership to train CEOs and senior managers of microfinance institutions to successfully build diverse, innovative organizations that better serve low-income women. The Center’s Women in Leadership Program aims to enhance the leadership capacity of women in microfinance institutions. The 5-day leadership development program provides opportunities for women to analyze their leadership style and build a personal development plan. With $400,000 in funding support from the Citi Foundation, WWB will train women leaders from microfinance institutions in South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. “The Citi Foundation is pleased to support the Women in Leadership Program’s mission to develop the next generation of women leaders within the microfinance industry,” said Pamela Flaherty, President and CEO of the Citi Foundation. “In many countries, women make up the majority of clients of microfinance institutions, and by developing a pipeline of future women leaders, we will continue to build stronger microfinance financial institutions that maintain the client at the heart of efforts to broaden financial inclusion.”