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Habitat Families Better Prepared for Future with Support from Citi

 

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Financial education training of trainers, held in Slovakia.

   
 

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Financial education training of officers in Bulgaria.

   
 

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Financial educational training for clients in Bulgaria.

   
 

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Citi volunteers on the build site.

   
 

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Citi volunteers on the build site after a hard but rewarding day of work.

In the midst of an uncertain global economy, sound financial management and access to credit can make the difference between home ownership and homelessness, especially for vulnerable, low income families. That’s why the Citi Foundation and Habitat for Humanity have joined hands in a three year effort to improve the capacity of homeowners to meet their mortgage payments on time and access small loans for vital home improvements.

The Citi Foundation is dedicated to enhancing economic opportunities for underserved individuals and families in communities where Citi works throughout the world, and helps individuals make informed financial decisions through its support of financial education programming.

In December 2007, the Citi Foundation committed for over three years to a larger project that will offer financial services and education to Habitat families in countries where Citi operates. Citi’s investment will complement Habitat’s own investments in countries where Citi does not have a presence. Specifically, Habitat’s “Financial Literacy and Capacity Building Program” will address:

● Financial Education Training – The project will provide a minimum of 2,000 low-income families with financial education training in around 14 countries in Central Europe, Central Asia and Africa. Habitat for Humanity is using a financial training curriculum drawing on one developed in Latin America (also funded by Citi) to fit the needs of clients in the European, Asian and African contexts. The training materials will help Habitat families learn how to better manage and save money, borrow smartly, and avoid loan defaults. Habitat for Humanity anticipates that homeowners who benefit from training will use their knowledge not only to benefit themselves, but also their friends, neighbors and other associates.

● Housing Loan Products – An additional 1,000 working poor families will have improved access to credit through adequate housing loans based on homeowners’ individual needs and resources. These loans can be used for home purchases, critical repairs or renovations and will be administered through local Habitat for Humanity country offices, or financial sector partners serving low income populations such as housing lenders, credit unions and microfinance institutions.

● Habitat for Humanity Capacity Building – Citi’s support also allows Habitat for Humanity to provide training for more than 200 of its staff, volunteers and local partners to improve their work with families in the area of financial literacy. Thanks to this investment in staff training, Habitat homeowners in future years to come will benefit from the organization’s institutional knowledge in financial education training.

By the end of 2008, training activities had begun in Bulgaria, Hungary and Slovakia and preparations were underway for start up activities in the African countries of Ivory Coast and Uganda. Citi is supporting the expansion to other countries of focus such as Poland, Romania, Turkey and Ukraine. Habitat for Humanity will build on the project’s success by co-funding the implementation of all project activities in Macedonia, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

“Citi believes that everyone in today’s global economy, not just those with abundant financial resources, deserves a chance to improve their economic status with sound financial management and access to credit,” said Swati Patel, Corporate Citizenship EMEA. “We are thrilled to support Habitat for Humanity’s long term efforts to address the financial needs of the low income working families it serves throughout Europe, Central Asia and Africa.”

Habitat for Humanity is proud to have the support and financial expertise of Citi employees who, where possible, will participate in the core training components of the project, reviewing curriculum and offering lessons on savings and lending practices through Citibank offices.

Most importantly, Habitat and Citi will involve the thousands of people it serves through this project. Client participation is critical for project success and homeowners become active participants not only in the building and renovation construction of their homes, but in building sound financial practices to keep and maintain their affordable homes.

“After the death of my husband, I never thought I would be able to purchase my apartment,” said Dasa, a Habitat client in Slovakia. But I have learned how to plan and save, and now I have a new loan from Habitat for Humanity to replace the old and broken windows with more efficient plastic ones that even help me to save on my electricity bills.”

Thanks to its partnership with Citi, Habitat will continue to improve the financial stability of thousands just like Dasa.