Cytonn Foundation: Giving back to the community through Entrepreneurial Mentorship and Trainings

From L-R (standing) Rose Maina - Assistant Foundation Coordinator, Charles Bett - Client Service Assistant, Shiv Arora - Head of Private Equity and Teresiah King’ara - PR & Communications Assistant. From L-R (seated) Daisy Muthee - Wealth Management Training Coordinator, Patricia Wanjama - Company Secretary & Head of Legal, Winfred Ndung’u - Brand & Business Administration Manager and Victor Ondiwo - Cytonn Young Leaders Program (CYLP) Coordinator.

Africa being the 6th out of 10 fastest growing economy in the world, entrepreneurship and business investments forms one of the major pillars in building the nations’ economy. Not only does it creates room for integration and innovation for sustainable livelihood but also creates an economic hub through job creation. It is from this backdrop that Cytonn Foundation was established in 2016. In an interview with StartUp Magazine, the Head of the Foundation Mrs. Rose Maina shared the motivation of Cytonn Foundation and their core interest of giving back to the society through holistic entrepreneurship and trainings.

What is Cytonn Foundation mandate?

Cytonn Foundation, an initiative of Cytonn Investments is focused on giving back to the society through skill development.

We focus on causes that resonate with our values and those that we collectively care about in areas of Entrepreneurship, Financial Literacy, and Training & Mentorship.

In Entrepreneurship, the foundation is concerned with skill development for budding entrepreneurs through provision of training, business support as well as creation of platforms through which these entrepreneurs can access investor funding.

In terms of Financial Literacy, the foundation provides knowledge on wealth management to interested members of the public through organized training forums held on Saturdays every fortnight at the foundation’s Chancery offices.

Training & Mentorship involves developing capacities of fresh graduates with the necessary skills to succeed in their careers of choice done through internships and the summer associated programme.

What is outstanding about the Cytonn Foundation?

At Cytonn Foundation, all programmes provide a hands-on approach that enable participants gain practical skills and develop viable strategies and solutions. This in essence, gives the staff the opportunity to give back individually through training, mentoring and ensuring the success of the programmes. Currently, the foundation runs several programmes under each of the three pillars of Entrepreneurship, Financial Literacy, and Training & Mentorship.

Under Training and Mentorship, we have 3 engagements that aim to impart skills to the beneficiaries. Cytonn Young Leaders Programme (CYLP),an intense, competitive 12-week training and mentorship programme targets fresh graduates from universities. As at January 2017, CYLP had trained over 300 graduates. Out of this, 40 per cent of the trained graduates were absorbed by Cytonn while many others have joined reputable organizations. “Besides, adds Mrs. Maina, we have collaborated with various universities and play a significant role in mentorship of university students on career growth and leadership.”

Cytonn Summer Associate Programme (CSAP) is another 12-week summer immersion and training programme that provides hardworking and exemplary graduate school students an opportunity to get diverse experience as well as participate in the shaping of the investments landscape in East Africa. CSAP seeks to provide a firsthand opportunity toprofessionals who are interested in making an impact in developing markets.

Media training also provides a platform to contribute to the growth of financial journalism, improve the quality of information accessible to the public and enhance business journalists’ skill sets.

Participants of Cytonn eHub Sn. 2 with CEO Ediwn Dande

We train media professionals on Investments, Finance and Real Estate twice every year.

On the other hand, Cytonn Foundation boasts of Cytonn Entrepreneurs Hub (Cytonn eHub), which incorporates various initiatives under the Entrepreneurship wing. Cytonn eHub is an annual initiative of the foundation themed “Start Sharp and Thrive”. The initiative has four main activities that address eHub Discussion Forum, eHub Training Programme, eHub Investors Forum and eHub Business Support.

The Cytonn eHub Discussion Forum brings a panel of distinguished entrepreneurs together with budding entrepreneurs to learn from each other’s entrepreneurial journey. Normally, the forum takes place in the first quarter of the year.

Cytonn eHub Training Programme on the other hand offers an intense 12-week training and mentorship programme for young and upcoming entrepreneurs to enhance the knowledge and capabilities to start, run and grow successful business enterprises.

Closely tied to eHub Discussion Forum is Cytonn eHub Investors Forum which gathers together distinguished entrepreneurs and investors with the intent of networking. Successful Cytonn eHub Training Programme graduates and starting entrepreneurs drawn from different sectors are then able to pitch their businesses and business ideas to investors with the goal of securing funding. This forum also marks the graduation ceremony for the successful CytonneHub Training Programme entrepreneurs.

Cytonn eHub Business Support aims at ensuring continued follow up and support for Cytonn eHub entrepreneurs.

In terms of Financial Literacy pillar, we conduct wealth management training programmes aimed at enhancing financial knowledgeskills and whilst empowering individuals. This allows them to make informed decisions on their financial resources. We do these through training sessions at universities, conferences, at our forums and during the bi-weekly wealth management training at our Chancery offices open only to pre-screened individuals.

All the programmes are designed to suit the specific needs of upcoming entrepreneurs with direct impact as all of them are delivered through tailor-made person-person discussions.

Why seek to nurture entrepreneurs and leaders?

As a foundation, we strongly believe that entrepreneurship is a surepath to reducing the unemployment rate in Kenya. Thus we identify young and upcoming entrepreneurs whom we grow and nurture so as to become self-employed through growing successful enterprises.

It is these entrepreneurs who in turn create jobs for others in their business enterprises.

What are the key considerations for entrepreneurs to join Cytonn eHub?

The Cytonn eHub Programme targets two clientele types: Individuals with an already running business which has been in existence for a period of between 6 months and 2 yearsor individuals with an actionable idea and a business plan.To note however is that business ideas are only be limited to the real estate, financial services, and technology and education sector.

Any success so farsince the setting up of eHub?

Since its inception in 2016, eHub has trained over 30 entrepreneurs on how to kick-start, run and grow successful enterprises. “We have also conducted three successful investors’ forums that have seen the winners receive capital injections into their businesses in form of cash awards of Ksh. 100,000, Ksh. 50,000 and Ksh. 25,000.

The Foundation has alsoconducted two Entrepreneurs Discussion Forum that have seen over 500 young business minded people come together with distinguished entrepreneurs to learn from each other’s journey.

What’s our take on the role of private and public sector on reducing unemployment levels in Kenya?

In finality both the private and public sectors have the mandate to identify and nurture talents of the youth and encourage self-employment and contribute towards growing the economy by further providing employment to others. We all have a role to play in building our economy.