Barclays supports Indian slum dwellersDecember 2008
Adolescent Indian girls in a Mumbai slum and in three districts of rural Maharashtra will benefit from a partnership between Barclays Bank and Unicef to give mentoring and provide microfinance and financial training.
The bank is injecting $1.56million (£1.05m) into the scheme over three years to equip the young people with working skills and promote entrepreneurial thinking.
The partnership, called Building Young Futures, is intended at the same time to encourage saving and investment habits that will contribute to economic empowerment and in the longer term assist the bank in giving a new group of people access to its financial services.
Rachael Barber, Barclays’ global head of community investment, said: ‘Most of our volunteer work has been confined to the UK, where we were headquartered. But we are now making a deliberate effort to expand these geographies and target new markets.’ Last year the bank spent £52.4m ($77.4m) on social and community building projects, half of which were outside the UK.
Altogether young people in ten countries will participate in schemes under the partnership, which will cost Barclays a total of £5m. Unicef considers the partnership unique because of the large amount of corporate funding and because Barclays will provide up to 15,000 hours of its employees’ time.
David Bull, executive director of Unicef UK, said: ‘This is the largest single donation we have received from a corporate partner in UK. It will combine Barclays’ business and financial expertise with our global experience in helping young people in excluded communities to deliver sustainable change as they break free of the poverty cycle.’
The spirit of volunteerism will be a feature of the programme in India. Samir Bhatia, managing director of India & Indian Ocean Barclays, expects his 500 employees in Maharashtra to become involved. He says: ‘We will work closely with Unicef through the planning and implementation phases and our employees will engage with beneficiaries in all stages – formal education and coaching, career counselling, mentoring and vocational skills training, imparting knowledge on money management, financial planning and entrepreneurship.’
The Indian scheme is intended to reach at least 25 girls aged between 12 and 18 from every village involved, covering a total of 70,000. Up to 70 per cent of girls drop out of school in Maharashtra. One aim of the project is to motivate them to join open schools and return to regular schools.
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