WASHINGTON, DC – November 30, 2017– On the occasion of the 2017 Global Entrepreneurship Summit in India, the U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF) and the Citi Foundation announced today their commitment of over $1 million dollars in seed capital funding for youth-led enterprises in Africa. Together, USADF and the Citi Foundation – through their Pathways to Progress initiative – are funding and mentoring Africa’s next generation of business leaders to help solve some of the continent’s biggest and longest-standing problems.
“These young entrepreneurs lead the way in applying business solutions to social problems,” says C.D. Glin, President & CEO of the U.S. African Development Foundation. “Entrepreneurs help create markets where there are none, and contribute innovation and new thinking around entrenched problems. We are proud to partner with the Citi Foundation, who has showed such commitment to creating new job opportunities for young people. Our partnership supports young entrepreneurs to grow successful businesses and become agents of positive change in their communities.”
“In February 2017, the Citi Foundation announced the expansion of our philanthropic commitment, Pathways to Progress, which works to empower urban young people. We have made an investment of an additional $100 million to impact the lives of 500,000 youth in cities around the world by 2020,” said Karim Seifeddine, Citi’s Public Affairs and Government Relations Head, Middle East and Africa. “To support these efforts, the Citi Foundation is excited to continue this partnership with USADF to help young Africans move closer towards their career goals and sustainable futures.”
USADF and the Citi Foundation share a goal of harnessing the entrepreneurial spirit of Africa’s youth, and will work together to train, fund and empower young entrepreneurs and their ideas. Through this partnership, they invest in and economically empower young African innovators today for a peaceful and prosperous tomorrow. USADF is proud to partner with the private sector to support youth-led enterprises leading their country’s economic development.
The partnership will provide funding and technical know-how to young entrepreneurs launching or expanding their social ventures. In this second year of the partnership, the Citi Foundation is funding 18 young entrepreneurs 25 years old and younger with over $180,000 in start-up capital. Five additional entrepreneurs will receive an additional $50,000 each in follow-on financing from the Citi Foundation. These five innovators demonstrated high impact and the ability to scale their social enterprises.
USADF selects Africa’s top entrepreneurs from the Mandela Washington Fellowship, the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), through highly competitive business plan competitions. Over a 6 to 12-month period, the entrepreneurs supported by USADF and the Citi Foundation partnership will gain operational knowledge in funds accountability and reporting. They will also have access to one-on-one business advice and mentoring, and tangible skills from Citi volunteers to help them grow their ventures.
Brenda Katwesigye, founder of Wazi Vision, is one entrepreneur to receive an additional $50,000 in funding. Her social enterprise sells low-cost eyeglasses, made from recycled plastics and designed by female artisans, to low-income students in Uganda. Katwesigye, a Mandela Washington Fellow, first received an initial $25,000 in seed capital from USADF and the Citi Foundation to expand her business.
In Uganda, 1 in 10 children suffer from undiagnosed vision-related problems. In 2016, Wazi Vision reached over 2,000 school-age children with free vision tests, and provided 400 children with eyeglasses. Not satisfied with her current success, Katwesigyehas her eyes set on an even more ambitious target to bring this entrepreneurial spirit to the affordable housing market. “During our outreach campaign, we noted that a lot of the teachers of the children that we target in rural areas could not afford only eyecare, but also could not afford basic housing,” says Katwesigye. With the next round of funding, she plans to expand her product line to produce low-cost building materials made of the same recycled plastic as Wazi Vision’s glasses. She plans to provide over 20,000 families with affordable housing materials.
To date, USADF has invested nearly $4 million in 180 youth-led social enterprises in over 30 countries. This year, USADF and the Citi Foundation will each award approximately $500,000 to 60 young entrepreneurs, totaling over $1 million in seed capital.
About the U.S. African Development Foundation:
The U.S. African Development Foundation (USADF) is an independent U.S. Government agency established by Congress to support and invest in African owned and led enterprises which improve lives and livelihoods in poor and vulnerable communities in Africa. By partnering with communities, countries and corporations, USADF provides early stage funding to African-led and managed enterprises with a maximum grant size of $250,000 dollars, with grants that support agriculture, off-grid energy and youth. To find out more about the winners, visit www.USADF.gov/youth.
About the Citi Foundation:
The Citi Foundation works to promote economic progress and improve the lives of people in low-income communities around the world. The foundation invests 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 fulfil their mission and drive thought leadership and innovation. For more information, visit www.citifoundation.com.