Business for YOUth, the professional educational program for refugees and vulnerable youth groups, was successfully completed

A collaboration between the International Rescue Committee, SolidarityNow and Knowl exclusively funded by the Citi Foundation.

350 young people – refugees, migrants and members of vulnerable social groups – who wanted not only to challenge themselves with entrepreneurship but also to start their lives with dignity and dynamism, participated in the Business for YOUth entrepreneurship program that took part from March 2018 to July 2019. Watch the video that summarizes the results of the program: Business For YOUth program completed!

This action is just one of the partnerships between Citi Foundation and the International Rescue Committee (IRC). With a $2,000,000 donation by the Citi Foundation’s Pathways to Progress Global Initiative, 1,000 young refugees, migrants, and vulnerable youth groups from Greece, Jordan and Nigeria received professional training and financial support for start-ups.

In particular, in Athens, the IRC has worked with SolidarityNow to develop and implement the Business for YOUth program in collaboration with the social enterprise Knowl and has enabled 350 people aged 18-35 to be trained in basic principles of entrepreneurship.

30 of the participants, who were distinguished both for their ideas and their determination and commitment to chasing their dream, were selected to receive personalized support from mentors and a symbolic amount to cover the first operating costs of their company.

“When we launched the Business for YOUth training and entrepreneurship program in March 2018, our ambition was to give young people the opportunity to acquire knowledge that would help them implement their own business ideas in a country like Greece that is struggling with unemployment and exclusion. To give them the opportunity to create, stand apart and flourish! Today, with the completion of the program, we feel that our goal has been achieved since the numbers and results have allied with us. More than 350 young people attended 19 courses and 30 of them reached the next level: they received special counseling to get their business idea materialized. Such a principle shows and the need for such dynamic initiatives – a priority for us in SolidarityNow”, notes Antigone Lyberaki, SolidarityNow General Manager.

The IRC and the Citi Foundation have created a global partnership to help aspiring and ambitious young entrepreneurs start their own businesses. Over the past 2 years, 1,000 people have supported business ideas in Greece, Jordan and Nigeria. In Greece, the program focused on young Greeks, asylum seekers, and refugees. We hope that the experience we have gained will inspire similar initiatives in the future and will give everyone the opportunity to create a new life in Greece. Through this program we met amazing, talented, and strong people to whom we wish wholeheartedly good luck in creating their new businesses”, said Jana Frey, Country Director in IRC Hellas.

“As with many other modern challenges, cities are at the forefront of attempts to integrate refugees and vulnerable youth groups. The Citi Foundation’s Pathways to Progress initiative is the solution we offer for positive prospects in our lives through a sustainable economic path. We believe that our most important obligation to young people is to establish the conditions that will encourage them to believe in their future“, said Manina Menidiatis, Public Affairs Officer, Citi Greece.

“We are particularly proud that through the targeted and intensive entrepreneurship program, 350 young people have successfully completed the training program, have taken the opportunity to think, develop, present and, above all, test their business ideas in an ‘unknown’ environment. Importance was given to the development of soft skills, and the transmission of knowledge directly applicable to business activity such as costing, branding, financing, etc. Entrepreneurs and professionals were mentors to the participants, who managed to implement their business plans in a professional and, most importantly, sustainable way. In fact, 30 of them received further personalized advice and guidance on the development of the business plan. Knowl, which values respect for all people, will continue to actively support such initiatives”, Dr. Ioannis Salamouris, President of Knowl-Social Enterprise, stated.

*The completion of the first round of this collaboration was celebrated on Tuesday, July 9, at the Serafio of the City of Athens. Beneficiaries, rapporteurs, consultants, co-operating organizations, as well as friends and supporters participated in the celebration. Everyone remembered important moments, exchanged experiences and impressions, had fun, and wished the young entrepreneurs, good luck.

More about the IRC

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is a humanitarian non-governmental organization that since 1933 has supported refugees, displaced populations, victims of oppression and violent conflicts around the world. In Greece, IRC Hellas started offering services in the summer of 2015 in Lesvos and its actions have gradually expanded to mainland Greece. Its interventions extend from reception to integration of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, with the aim of rebuilding their lives. Η International Rescue Committee (IRC) είναι μια ανθρωπιστική μη κυβερνητική οργάνωση που από το 1933 στηρίζει πρόσφυγες, εκτοπισμένους πληθυσμούς, θύματα καταπίεσης και βίαιων συρράξεων σε όλο τον κόσμο. Στην Ελλάδα, η IRC Hellas, ξεκίνησε να παρέχει υπηρεσίες το καλοκαίρι του 2015 στη Λέσβο και, σταδιακά, οι δράσεις της επεκτάθηκαν στην ηπειρωτική Ελλάδα. Οι παρεμβάσεις της εκτείνονται από την υποδοχή έως και την ένταξη προσφύγων, αιτούντων άσυλο και μεταναστών, με σκοπό την ανοικοδόμηση της ζωής τους. The IRC focuses on providing services for the protection and empowerment of women and children (including 24-hour care for unaccompanied minors), mental health and psychosocial support, labor market integration, job counseling and entrepreneurship education programs for young people, support for management and infrastructure refugee camps, as well as providing valid and simplified information through the Refugee.Info platform. At the same time, it has gained valuable experience in the dynamics and needs of civil society in Greece through the close cooperation and support of ten organizations as part of one of its programs. It has also collaborated with the municipalities of Athens, Thessaloniki, Piraeus and Lesvos.

More about the Pathways to Progress initiative by the Citi Institution

The Citi Foundation’s Pathways to Progress initiative, funded by the Rescuing Futures for Resellers and Vulnerable Business Training program for 2017-2020, involves a three-year $ 100 million investment program and a voluntary offer of 10,000 Citi employees aiming to support the vocational training and employment of 500,000 young people around the world to cope with the challenges of a modern competitive labor market. This is an extension of an initial $ 50 million bid that supported more than 100,000 young people in ten US cities. The Pathways to Progress initiative aims at reducing youth unemployment in major cities around the world, improving the quality of the workforce by creating opportunities for a first job, developing entrepreneurial skills, offering vocational training and practice. Moreover, it recently presented the findings of a new global survey demonstrating the high level of optimism among young people, on the one hand, and the lack of opportunities and skills, on the other hand.

More about Knowl

The Knowl Society for Education and Lifelong Learning (est. 2012) is one of the leading European Social Enterprises with substantial social impact and measurable results, developing personalized professional and personal high-level training for companies and businesses, offering free education and training for vulnerable groups such as the unemployed and refugees. To date we have offered at zero cost training skills and guidance services – counseling to 4,000+ people (social risk groups). Most memorable is the Mellon Skill Accelerator, the social initiative that records impressive results as 1 in 2 beneficiaries find work before completing the training program.

In Knowl we place special emphasis on young people out of employment, education or training (NEETs), unemployed, women, people with reduced financial capacity excluded from learning processes and / or with limited skills, refugees and start-uppers. Distinguished operators and companies that choose and trust Knowl services include the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, the Prince’s Trust International, the Bodossakis Foundation, the European Commission in Greece, Vodafone Greece, KAYKAS SA, Chios Mastic Producers Association, KORRES, major research institutes, municipalities, etc.