“We need to invest in young people!”
Today’s youth have the ability and determination to tackle some of society’s most pressing problems, but need the guidance and support to help them on their way. This is where JA Europe’s Company Program comes in!
By Anneli Sundström, Head of Communications and Public Affairs, Nordic countries, Citi
I’m the communications director for Citi in the Nordic region and I also have the pleasure of being the coordinator for the Citi Foundation’s Pathways to Progress grants to Junior Achievement’s member organisations in the Nordic countries, including Fonden for Entreprenørskab. I have seen first-hand the creativity and dedication of Danish youth as they work through the Company Programme, a programme that the Citi Foundation has supported in Denmark for more than 10 years through the Fonden for Entreprenørskab. Furthermore, on a European level, we are celebrating 30 years of partnership with Junior Achievement Europe.
So, you might ask, why is a global bank like Citi partnering up with NGO’s such as Fonden for Entreprenørskab?
Our partnership is yet another example of Citi’s positive impact on the world when we bring our mission of enabling growth and economic progress to life in the communities in which we live and work. We do this daily as a bank through our normal commercial activities, and we use our mission to guide what we do and how we act. As such, citizenship does not exist in a silo. Instead, we are working to embed it deeper into our core business activities to ensure we are providing the greatest impact for society, our clients, and employees. This makes a partnership with Fonden for Entreprenørskab a “no-brainer” for us. Here we can leverage the commercial skills and global knowledge of our employees alongside the Citi Foundation’s Pathways to Progress partners to support entrepreneurs all over the world and obviously, here in Denmark as well.
Earlier this year, the Citi Foundation expanded its Pathways to Progress initiative, and committed to supporting young people with entrepreneurship training, mentorships, and leadership development. We launched our largest ever commitment this year with $100 billion to reach 500,000 youth over the next three years. The goal is to help as many young people as possible to become “career ready”, with 10,000 Citi employees working as volunteers, mentors, coaches and role models to support them in their career development.
But there are many challenges! The world of work has been undergoing steady change for quite some time and is more fast-paced than ever before. If we want to see more innovation and sustainable job creation in the future, new generations must be prepared and equipped with the right skills to have a successful transition from school to work.
One major challenge we are facing in Europe is the unacceptably high rate of youth unemployment – with 4.2 million unemployed young people in the EU (2016). A key highlight in our recent Pathways to Progress Global Youth Survey 2017, (where 7,394 young people, aged 18-24 in 32 countries were interviewed) shows that 69% of respondents dream of starting their own business. At the same time, 70% are optimistic about starting a business, but also state that lack of education and knowledge are major barriers to making these dreams come true. This seems to be a global trend in both developed and developing countries.
Our partnership with Fonden for Entreprenørskab is a signature program in this commitment to make a difference for young people. We’re very proud of the impact and the results achieved so far. For 2017-2018, our efforts will continue through supporting the Company Program in Denmark to improve students’ ideas, concepts and ability to innovate, like creating an app to alleviate symptoms of Dementia.
I have spoken with many of the Citi employees who have been actively involved with the program as jury members for the National Company Award. Across the board, they have all mentioned the energy and positive engagement when working with the students as one of the highlights of their year.
“It’s truly inspiring to see how extremely engaged and enthusiastic the students are in their business ideas. Their creative spirit and high quality on their ideas and presentations are impressive. It’s very rewarding to see that our engagement makes a difference, not only for the students but also for us”, says Winnie Eibye, Relationship Associate at Citi in Denmark.
We believe that an entrepreneurial mind-set is fundamental in positively changing and developing society. We also believe that entrepreneurship education is the right way to help and support young people to be better prepared to reach their professional and personal futures.
This is why we are investing in the young people of Denmark and the rest of the world and partnering with Fonden for Entreprenørskab. We are proud of playing a part in helping young entrepreneurs realize their dreams!