KickStart: Progress for Farmers in Africa - A Citi banker from Egypt, based in New York, helps a client in Kenya
By Noha Galal Abdelsalam, Senior Vice President and Relationship Manager for Citi Commercial Bank
August 05, 2014 01:16 PM
Citi is the title sponsor of the It's Africa's Time series, which focuses on how businesses can help advance the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. The second episode in the series begins airing today on CNBC in sub-Saharan Africa and features KickStart International, a non-profit social enterprise and Citi client.
I never dreamed when I joined Citi that my job would take me far away from my home in Africa, yet give me the opportunity to have a transformative impact there many years later.
I joined Citi fourteen years ago in Cairo, and since then have worked in numerous markets and countries. Today, I'm a Relationship Manager with the Commercial Bank in New York, working with mid-sized businesses, including KickStart International, a non-profit social enterprise with operations in Kenya and other sub-Saharan countries, whose mission is to lift families from poverty.
KickStart makes manually operated water pumps that allow farmers to grow crops year-round. Irrigation makes the difference between producing just enough for their families to survive versus having money left over for education, housing and saving for a better future.
Instead of giving the pumps away, KickStart sells them to the farmers at an affordable cost made possible by product sales and donor funding. The farmers make an investment, work hard, and reap the rewards. It's a sustainable model for progress, as the revenue goes right back into KickStart's pump business and enables growth.
Where Citi comes in is providing working capital to buy the inventory from China, and then foreign exchange and transaction services to import pumps to Africa and then sell them in remote areas. I am part of a team that spans New York, London, San Francisco, and Nairobi -and helps make this package of products and services meet and accelerate the progress of KickStart.
Working with a client that positively impacts lives in Africa - a place close to my heart - has been particularly rewarding. Michael Mutiga, Citi's Corporate Bank Head for Kenya, says that we are in the business of empowerment, and I think that's exactly what we've done for KickStart, and the farmers whose lives they're changing.
Citi gave me the ability to draw on the help of colleagues across oceans and help a business with global needs, so millions of families in Africa can now begin planning for a better future. As for my future, I look forward to new opportunities to enable progress - no matter where in the world I, or my clients, may be based.
*Tagged as: africa, clients, it's africa's time, kickstart, kickstart international, progress makers