Thursday
July 21
2011

Scott Anderson

Introducing Citi Foundation, NextBillion?s Sponsoring Partner

I’m happy to announce the Citi Foundation as the inaugural sponsoring partner of the NextBillion Network. This investment will be used to redesign the NextBillion network of sites and vastly improve the reader experience.

The Citi Foundation supports economic empowerment and financial inclusion for low- to moderate-income people in communities where Citi operates. In 2010, the Citi Foundation distributed $67.9 million in grants focused on financial capability and asset building, microfinance, and micro or small enterprise development, among other areas. Some 41 percent of those grants were distributed outside of the U.S.

The Citi Foundation and NextBillion have similar interests: highlighting innovations, leaders and initiatives to combat poverty through enterprise. The Citi Foundation works collaboratively with a variety of partners to design and test financial inclusion innovations with an eye toward building scale and sustainability. The foundation takes a “More-than-Philanthropy approach,” which includes support for collaborative problem solving, program development and skill-based volunteering.

The Citi Foundation has provided long-standing support to leading BoP organizations that integrate market-based approaches to economic development, including the World Resources Institute’s New Ventures. Through membership in organizations like ANDE and the GIIN, the foundation is actively involved in investing in institutions that drive financial and economic inclusion.

“Micro and small enterprises are powerful engines of economic growth and jobs,” said Citi Foundation President and CEO Pamela Flaherty. “At Citi we invest in opportunities that build capacity for these enterprises. That is why we are pleased to partner with NextBillion.

“By leveraging their social media presence, NextBillion facilitates discussion among this community of practitioners, academics, entrepreneurs, and business leaders to promote market-based solutions to poverty for the world’s four billion low-income producers and consumers,” Flaherty said.

Over the years, we’ve taken note of Citi’s many efforts to fight poverty through enterprise here at NextBillion, particularly in the microfinance arena. Some good background can be found in this post on Bob Annibale, Global Director of Citi Microfinance, as well as in Citi’s Global Citizenship Report

“Citi Foundation has a proven track record for effective approaches to poverty alleviation through enterprise,” said Robert Kennedy, executive director of the William Davidson Institute, a NextBillion managing partner. “The organization not only leverages best practices in the worlds of finance, business development and training, but is constantly exploring new, actionable methods for expanding access to markets and improving the incomes of the poor around the world.”

Kirsty Jenkinson, director of the Markets & Enterprise Program at the World Resources Institute, a NextBillion’s other managing partner, said the Citi Foundation “advances sustainable development through its support of innovative small and medium enterprises that create jobs and provide social and environmental benefits to local communities.”

“We welcome the expertise that the foundation brings to NextBillion as well as its continuing long-term strategic partnership with New Ventures and WRI,” Jenkinson said.

This vital funding will help NextBillion turn long-held aspirational goals into operational ones, facilitating a redesign of NextBillion’s front page, as well as those of our sister sites NextBillion Brasil and NextBillion Espanol. It also will help us develop an improved mobile presence – something that we know is of importance to our expanding smart phone audience. We have a number of other technical plans on the table that this grant will help us to deliver, but we’ll announce those as the launch dates grow closer.

In the meantime, please join me in thanking and welcoming our Sponsoring Partner, Citi Foundation.

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