Why is Citi backing our appeal?

THE CAPITALIST asks Bob Annibale, Citi’s global director of microfinance, why the bank is supporting the City A.M. Christmas Appeal this year.

Citi has been supporting Opportunity International since 1994. The Citi Foundation and Opportunity’s missions were then, and continue to be, well aligned, with both organisations supporting the economic empowerment and financial inclusion of low- to moderate-income people.

What makes Opportunity’s work unique?

Two key points for me. Firstly their model – setting up scalable, financial institutions that will ultimately be sustainable. For example they have more than 400,000 savings clients in Malawi alone. Secondly their approach to innovation and use of new technologies is exciting. For instance using android tablets for gathering critical data from farmers.

Is it more important for people to give their time or money?

In an ideal world people would give of both their time and money, but we all face different circumstances and should give what we are able to. It is important to say that people sometimes don’t recognise the value of their skills to a charity. The Olympic volunteers provided a fantastic example and it’s great to know that the Mayor is looking at ways to keep Londoners volunteering.

Do you think that the rich have a moral obligation to give to charity?

None of us is an island. We have a responsibility to those around us.

Do you think the economic crisis has affected people’s attitude to charitable donations?

A report from the Charities Aid Foundation and the National Council of Voluntary Organisations last week showed exactly that. The report doesn’t examine causes for the reduction in giving, but I think we can assume recession has played a part. We have to hope it is a blip as individual giving is a vital part of funding, especially when government is cutting back.

What is your favourite example of a charity in action?

I’m most focused on organisations that are impacting communities through provision of financial services and support for entrepreneurship. There are some fantastic examples, including Opportunity International – the level of sophistication of the technology it is using is first rate. Not only bringing electronic payments to people, but also using biometric technology to securely create a ‘financial identity’ for clients who may not have identity documents.

Is there anything you would like to change about the way we give?

Unfortunately, the number of donors in the UK using payroll giving has dropped in the last 12 months. Certainly companies like Citi must play their part to increase it.

Raised since launch

*Every pound donated by City A.M. readers will be matched by the UK Government


online at: www.cityam.com/appeal

by text

CITY13 and amount (£5 or £10 only) to


Text donations may not work from company mobile phones as these often block premium messages.

credit or debit card by phone to Opportunity International

(01865 725 304)

If donations exceed our programme needs in Africa, they will be deployed elsewhere.



with details of why you’ve donated. These comments may be printed in City A.M.