Citi Kenya, NGO Launch U.S.$25,000 to Support Women Economic Empowerment

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Citi Kenya and the regional non-profit organization Clean Start Solutions have announced the launch of a partnership through a USD 25,000 grant from Citi in support of Formerly Imprisoned Women (FIW) and girls who face various challenges upon their release from prison.

Clean Start Kenya is an organization that identifies with stories of women once behind bars, creating second chances. The Founder, Teresa Njoroge, a former FIW, started Clean Start Solutions in 2015 with the objective of helping restore dignity, esteem and confidence to women, girls and children impacted by the criminal justice system.

Their reintegration and economic empowerment through the provision of dignity packs, counselling, business training and mentorship give them an opportunity to rebuild their lives. Clean Start has so far impacted 3,400 women, with 40% of the NGO’s staff being FIWs themselves.

In Kenya, the annual average number of women in prison is 9400. This is mainly due to the increasing level of poverty and lack of access to economic opportunities. 90% are single mothers and sole breadwinners. About 400 children below the age of 5 accompany their mothers into the prison. 52% go back to prison at least 3 years after release which means that two-thirds of released inmates will be re-incarcerated after their release from prison. Furthermore, finding employment post-release is usually traumatic due to stigmatization.

The partnership is part of Citi’s ‘EMEA Lives Our Values Impact Fund’ which sees employees identify and make the case for funding high impact charities. This year, five projects were shortlisted for the awards in Kenya, Cameroon, Kazakhstan, Spain and the UK which addressed a wide range of social challenges including science education programmes in rural areas, supporting the elderly, and creation of economic opportunities for young people with disabilities.

Citi’s Europe Middle East and Africa Head who is currently visiting the East Africa region commended Sarah Kaminchia and Jackline Kibisu at Citi Kenya for identifying Clean Start Solutions as a potential recipient of this year’s awards,’ said David Livingstone, ‘For the past seven years, Teresa and team have made a difference to the lives of women, girls and children impacted by the Criminal Justice System by running rehabilitation and work readiness centers across the country. This goes a long way in producing a multiplier effect that spurs economic growth and contributes to societal stability.’

Clean Start Solutions will use the Citi funds to set up three business hubs specializing in the production of charcoal briquettes using recycled waste, tailoring and dressmaking as well as the manufacturing of fish lures for export. This will help sustain small businesses of 36 WIFs annually.

In Kenya women cannot prosper in the workplace, or succeed as entrepreneurs, until they break down social and legal barriers inhibiting their full economic participation. This is more difficult for formerly imprisoned women fighting to get back on their feet after their release,’ said Teresa Njoroge. ‘Citi’s engagement and support will go a long way in sustaining livelihoods of more FIWs and supporting their re-integration in the economic cycle.’

Martin Mugambi, Citi’s East Africa Head and Citi Kenya CEO, said: ‘This initiative is aligned to Citi’s values of creating sustainability and enabling economic progress. Citi staff in Kenya will be able to volunteer in the program by providing training on business skills such as book-keeping and basic computing skills. In addition, staff will participate in the Discharge Boards at their nearest correctional facility which will provide inmates an opportunity to get jobs upon release.’

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