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Press Release

The IRC and Citi Foundation partner to mentor refugee youth in entrepreneurship

$2 million grant will provide refugees aged 16 - 24 in Greece, Jordan and Nigeria with business training and start-up grants through the Citi Foundation’s Pathways to Progress initiative

A new partnership launched today between the Citi Foundation and the International Rescue Committee will provide refugees, young people displaced within their own countries and vulnerable youth from the communities hosting them with support to help them generate a reliable income and contribute to their local economy.

Throughout the two-year project, Rescuing Futures, nearly 1,000 young people across three cities; Athens in Greece, Amman in Jordan and Yola in northeast Nigeria, will be supported to start their own businesses. 

David Miliband, President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee said: “The IRC’s partnership with the Citi Foundation represents a best-in-class global public-private partnership. 

“The IRC has unique expertise in working with conflict-affected populations and the urban-displaced to build economic resilience. Alongside the Citi Foundation’s Pathways to Progress initiative, a commendable commitment to investing in the futures of young people, this project will have a life-changing impact on some of the most marginalized youth around the world.” 

The humanitarian landscape is changing; 60% of the world’s refugees, and 80% of internally displaced people, now live in urban areas, and four-fifths live in developing countries that can least afford to host them. There are more young people in the world now than ever before – 1.2 billion – and they face huge challenges with employment. 

Jim Cowles, CEO of Citi Europe Middle East and Africa (EMEA) said: “Our Pathways to Progress initiative is our solution to securing positive futures for vulnerable young people. Working with the IRC will enable us to invest in some of EMEA’s most vulnerable youth and put them on a sustainable economic path. 

“Given today’s context, well-designed interventions like Rescuing Futures can address inequality of opportunity, and positively impact community wellbeing and economic growth.”

The Citi Foundation is a longstanding supporter of the IRC, helping to fund their Research & Development and emergency work in recent years. This year saw the expansion of the Citi Foundation’s Pathways to Progress initiative globally with a $100million commitment to reach 500,000 young people with entrepreneurship and employability training before 2020.

Alongside the $2 million grant from the Citi Foundation, a further $8 million has been committed across EMEA to support programmes under the Citi Foundation’s Pathways to Progress initiative and contribute to UN Sustainable Development Goal 8: reducing youth unemployment. Grants include $1.6 million to Youth Business International, $1.3 million to TechnoServe, $450,000 to United States African Development Foundation, and $450,000 to Ruwwad Al-Tanmeya.

About the IRC

The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and 29 U.S. cities helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future and strengthen their communities. Learn more at www.rescue-uk.org and follow the IRC on Twitter & Facebook.