Citi Asia-Pacific has piloted a corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme that allows its early-career staff to mentor youth-led social enterprises in the region. From March to May this year, 74 of the bank’s Global Consumer Banking (GBA) analysts and associates worked with 15 social enterprises in the region on how to refine their business strategies and expand their operations.
The young entrepreneurs are part of Youth:Co Lab, a programme co-created by Citi Foundation and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in 2017. The programme aims to tackle youth unemployment in the region by supporting young social entrepreneurs as they accelerate the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) through their businesses.
The Citi staff engaged with the young entrepreneurs to refine and articulate their mission, vision, impact, and strategy as they seek investments to grow their operations. The mentorship covers areas such as expansion into new markets, refinement of marketing and growth strategies, development of pricing policies, and performance measurement.
Among the youth enterprises that participated in the Citi programme is Advisory Singapore, a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering young Singaporeans to make informed career and further education choices.
Mock Yi Jun, co-founder and president of Advisory Singapore, says the programme helped his group to identify key financial metrics to be shared when pitching for investment funding. “Since the end of the programme, we've come away with a greater awareness on how to pitch Advisory's value proposition to external stakeholders,” he says.
Cambodian-based JUNLEN, another group that joined the CSR programme, promotes the recycling of organic waste via vermi-composting. It is launching a website as part of its new digital sales strategy, developed in partnership with the Citi staff. The group is currently working with small farmers to create a network of earthworm farms across the country.
“Through this experience, we have learned to better articulate our business and the goals we hope to achieve through our social enterprise,” says JUNLEN founder Sothearath Sok.