What a Bank's Foundation Is Doing to Push Financial Inclusion in India and Beyond

It’s been a while since we’ve checked in on the Citi Foundation’s financial inclusion work, but rest assured that this funding is still going strong. Citi is one of the top driving financial inclusion forces in corporate philanthropy, splitting support among North America, Latin America, Asia/Pacific, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

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One of the bank funder’s largest geographic focuses is India, and it recently announced a commitment of 130 million rupees through its India Innovation Grant Program. This amount equals about $1.9 million U.S. This grant money supports eight projects to boost financial education and capability programs. 

The India Innovation Grant Program is a fairly new endeavor, just established in 2014, and it encourages NGOs to develop programs to teach financial decision making in low-income populations. By using technology and financial insights, the foundation aims to improve access to financial services in India and reduce the cost of delivering these services. Grantees include the following: Navya Disha Trust, Swadhaar FinAccess, Anudip Foundation for Social Welfare, American India Foundation Trust, Pratham Education Foundation, MelJol, Kalighat Society for Development Facilitation, and Grameen Foundation.

Past Coverage about the Citi Foundation’s Financial Inclusion Support in India:

In a statement, Pramit Jhaveri, chief executive officer of Citi India, said that the initiative “carries a strong focus on producing positive and measurable financial behavioral change among women and youth by encouraging the accumulation and preservation of financial assets.”

Whether in India or elsewhere in the world, these are some of the key features of Citi’s financial inclusion grantmaking program:

  • Empowering young adults to build financial assets
  • Enabling entrepreneurs to launch businesses
  • Creating jobs for low-income individuals
  • Strengthening community-based organizations
  • Promoting financial strength during times of prosperity and instability

Otherwise, Citi has been busy in the areas of urban transformation and other forms of youth economic opportunities. Under the urban transformation umbrella, affordable housing, infrastructure building, and environmental sustainability grants are provided to improve cities. In addition to financial inclusion efforts for youth, Citi always supports programs for 16- to 25-year-olds that help youth get jobs and start their own businesses. There’s been a big push for this type of support in Latin America, especially Lima, Mexico City, and Sao Paulo, where youth are feeling increasingly optimistic about the future and interested in becoming entrepreneurs.

Unfortunately for grantseekers, the Citi Foundation accepts grant proposals by invitation only and doesn’t review any unsolicited letters of inquiry. The 2016 grant guidelines aren’t posted yet, but you can check out the 2015 guidelines for reference.

Last year, the foundation committed to making financial inclusion investments in direct service, capacity buildings, and systems change. However, it typically doesn’t fund solely classroom-based financial education programs, entrepreneurship training or business development services programs that do not provide resources to access capital to actually start or expand a business, or loan capitalization/interest expense. You can also learn about past grantees and search by focus area, location, and year on the Grants Search page.

There are nine program officers and senior program officers on the foundation’s staff, and they all specialize in a specific funding or geographic area.