Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship Project in Kenya

VSO and Citi

Supporting entrepreneurs to grow communities

Small businesses with growth potential have been supported to get to the next level by corporate volunteers from Citi.

Balloon Ventures and Citi logos
Group of corporate volunteers from Citi in Kenya on VSO Knowledge Exchange programme
Corporate volunteers from Citi in Kenya on VSO Knowledge Exchange programme

Supporting small business

About 80% of jobs in Africa are in small businesses, but most struggle to grow beyond employing one or two people. Poor access to finance, technology and markets are barriers to a thriving local economy.

Our four week Knowledge Exchange volunteering programme run jointly with social enterprise Balloon Ventures saw Citi analysts give valuable coaching to entrepreneurs from Nakuru, Kenya that led to:

  • 88% developing new business ideas
  • 75% improving operations
  • 75% developing financial understanding
  • 63% increasing networks

Organisational benefits

Helping the entrepreneurs to improve their businesses, overcome challenges and develop a sustainable business plan has definitely encouraged us to think strategically and creatively.
Yimin Ong
Citi volunteer

Along with sharing business knowledge, the Citi volunteers gain personal and professional skills. Adapting to a new cultural and economic environment, and testing opportunities in emerging markets provides a unique learning experience. In addition, many Citi volunteers have used the programme to improve their leadership, coaching and mentoring skills. 

The group of 12 Citi volunteers came from Corporate and Investment Banking from Uganda, Hungary, France, Switzerland, Israel and the UK. This international group further benefited cross-team working and intercultural awareness.

The power of corporate employee volunteering

Citi volunteers act as mentors to aspiring entrepreneurs advising them on business strategy and ways they can increase profit.  Apolo, who quit his job in Nakuru General Hospital to set up a mineral animal feed supplement business, is one of those to benefit.

Citi volunteers worked with Apolo to improve his financial situation and cash flow. The group came up with a twelve-month business plan to drive Apolo’s business growth and support him to use a mobile app to track his finances.

At the end of the programme the entrepreneurs prepare a 60 minute pitch for investment, after which loans are allocated to the best ideas. Apolo was awarded an 115,000 Kenyan shilling (£850) loan. His hope for the future has increased; he remarks: “give me two years and I’ll be a giant of Nakuru

The growth of small businesses can help build a community; increasing wealth and opportunity for all. All the entrepreneurs have benefited from coaching, and Citi has learned a lot about the challenges small businesses face in accessing finance, technology and markets. Citi is proud to be working with VSO Knowledge Exchange on such an innovative project.

Rachel Barber
Head of community development Europe Middle East and Africa at Citigroup

Download report

Citi volunteers on placement in Kenya
VSO/Mussa Uwitonze

Understanding Barriers to Youth Employment in Uganda and Kenya: A Participatory Action Research [PAR] Report.

Download report

Partner with us

Knowledge Exchange is VSO’s corporate employee volunteering offer. Develop your talented employees, while changing lives in the world's poorest communities

Does your organisation currently run a volunteering programme?

VSO Data Protection and Privacy Declaration

If you change your mind at any time about how you want to hear from us please call us on 020 8780 7500 or email We will never sell or swap your data and we promise to keep it safe and secure in accordance with our privacy policy