Speech by Mr Joseph Carasso – CEO Citibank Tanzania
Citibank Tanzania CEO Mr Joseph Carasso has said that the inaugural Citi Micro-entrepreneurship Awards in Tanzania goes along way to recognize the achievements of micro entrepreneurs in sailing through challenges and rising up strong to build the economy.
Citibank partnered with Tanzania Association of Micro finance Institutions (TAMFI) to run the programme.
He gave a short history of Citi bank where he said on 16th June this year Citibank completed 205 years of existence.
He noted that the bank has joined several companies who have are 150 years old and above. For instance it has supported a very important project – Panama Canal connecting the two oceans. It has pioneered a number of technologically driven initiatives like the ATM machines which are all over the world these days, credit cards and also they it has changed a lot. If there’s something important thing for a company is to withstand through the test of time and adapt. He was happy to strongly say that they are stronger, leaner and in better shape than they were 200 years ago.
As much as a lot has changed, he said two things have not changed in these 200 years – Their commitment to promoting financial prosperity / development to their clients, community and to the countries that they operate in, and also to give back to the communities we operate in. Currently Citibank operates in more than 100 countries; in Africa they are in 15 countries. Once a year, all the staff- more than 200,000 staff all over the world get together and work for a day in community project in what they call CITI Global Community Day. You can imagine the transformational impact that 200,000+ have all over the world. And here in Tanzania they do the same.
In giving back to the community, they have Citi Foundation that in 2015 alone, it donated more than 78 million USD supporting projects under Urban Development, Youth Economic Opportunities and Financial Inclusion in more than 86 countries. More than 820 NGOs benefited from these projects and more than one million people benefited.
He said it is his pleasure to say that this year they are inaugurating their first Citi Micro-entrepreneurship Awards on Tanzania. And this year Tanzania joins other 28 countries where a ceremony like this will be held.
“You may ask, why MFIs, why micro entrepreneurs in terms of recognition? Many big companies that we have today started from scratch example, in 1976, 2 young guys named Steve in one of their backyards came together and joined some few electronic parts together and started their small company of making personal computers, not even screens they had, they were using more like typing machines. And today that very same company makes ipads, iphones, computers that we use – Apple.
In 1998 Larry Paige created Google which today touches almost everyone’s life. In 2004, a student out of his university room created what we now call Facebook. They all started as small companies through micro-entrepreneurship but today they have big impact and transforms they way we all live. So the reason why Citibank believes micro-entrepreneurship is critical is because the small companies of today will be the great companies of tomorrow. And the second and important reason is poverty alleviation in creating income flow to our families.
So this inauguration (and hopefully will be done every year), aims at putting a spotlight into the importance of micro-entrepreneurship, and also try to contribute to the formation of entrepreneurs now and tomorrow”
The objective of the event was to recognize the achievements of all these entrepreneurs in sailing through challenges and rising up strong. He congratulated all the finalists and winners of 2016 micro-entrepreneurship Awards, citing that CMA started in 2005 in partnership with UN and was later on taken over by CITI Foundation.
He thanked TAMFI as a microfinance umbrella body saying that through them he is reassured that micro-entrepreneurship is a viable option for every entrepreneur in Tanzania.