India Innovation Grant Program     2015 India Innovation Grant Program

Supported by Citi Foundation

Citi India Innovation Grant Program- A pioneering approach to enabling economic progress. Since 1999, with the support of Citi Foundation, Citi India has been proactively supporting financial education and inclusion programs across the country. Amongst these projects with our partners include the establishment of the Citi Center of Financial Literacy for low-income women, and helping propel and develop saving habits amongst children in schools.

In 2014, Citi Foundation launched the India Innovation Grant Program (IIGP), a first-of-its-kind program, to invite and encourage non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to develop programs that are scalable and replicable in their reach through technology or by lowering the cost of delivery. These programs must not only be innovative but also bring out meaningful behavioral changes within the communities they operate in. After a robust review and approval process by Citi Foundation, selected NGOs become grantee partners that receive funding and the guidance of their very own ‘Citi Champion,’ who is a member of the Citi India leadership team.

If you are an NGO, interested in being a partner of progress of the IIGP, please do take some time to learn more about this fresh approach and our previous chapters.

2016 India Innovation Grant Program
About 2016 IIGP

In its third year, the Citi Foundation supported 2016 India Innovation Grant Program is focused on programs aimed at skilling youth and connecting them with economic opportunities that will, in turn propel economic progress and inclusion in India. In its previous two editions, the 2015 and 2014 IIGPs invested INR 244 million (close to USD 4 million), in fifteen innovative and sustainable financial education and capability programs to benefit more than 880,000 individuals in the country. The six programs selected this year are those aimed at increasing the employability and entrepreneurship opportunities of 13,000 low income youth, aged between 16-25 years, across India.

The 2016 IIGP was launched in February and of the 150 expressions of interest received from locally based NGOs in India, six programs that are expected to bring about meaningful behavioral change and support disadvantaged youth through entrepreneurship training, employment access and leadership, financial and workplace skill development opportunities. Programs aim to leverage technology and engage stakeholders to further national approaches that will advance sustainable, innovative, scalable models with measurable impact. The selected non-profit organizations include the following:

Our 2016 partners are:

  • ChildFund India
  • Foundation of MSME Clusters (FMC)
  • Learning Links Foundation
  • Pratham Education Foundation
  • Samarthanam Trust for the Disabled
  • TechnoServe Inc.

About the selected programs and NGOs:

ChildFund India: ‘Poverty to Prosperity – Creating 1000 Tribal Entrepreneurs’ will introduce 1,000 tribal women from below-the-poverty line families located in 20 villages across Jhabua, Dhar and Alirajpur districts in Madhya Pradesh to the industry of poultry farming and develop their entrepreneurship and leadership skills, while also creating supply-chain and financial linkages for them. ChildFund India will not only empower these women, but will also create a self-sustaining model through the formation of a Producer Company.

Foundation for MSME Clusters (FMC): Embroidery to Employment (E2E) Program aims to restore the dying and historic art of embroidery, by providing on-the-job leadership and entrepreneurial training to 500 artisans. FMC will work with the artisans of Agra and Uttar Pradesh to help them enhance their income between 30% and 50% by infusing new skillsets and by creating and promoting a Design/Product Innovation Centre, which will act both as an incubation lab for ideas and marketing, as well as a community enterprise.

Learning Links Foundation: Youth Empowerment Series for Micro-Entrepreneurs (YES for ME) Program aims to impart entrepreneurial digital and financial literacy skills and English-speaking training to 2,400 youth in Pune, Chennai, Bangalore and the National Capital Region. Learning Links will further train those youth interested in entrepreneurship and help them create strong business cases to obtain funding from various financiers.

Pratham Education Foundation: Project RISE (Relocation Inspiration for Successful Employability) aims to support 7,000 urban youth migrants in Mumbai and Delhi. Pratham will mobilize, train and provide employment linkages and migrant support services to 1,000 youth (90% women). In addition, these migrant support networks will be leveraged for an additional 6,000 (60% men and 40% women) youth who have migrated on their own, without any formal skills. The youth will also benefit through digital and financial skill enhancement training.

Samarthanam Trust for the Disabled: Project Amita – Empowering Youth with Disability will enable 600 differently abled underprivileged youth in the National Capital Region, Hyderabad and Mumbai, to gain meaningful employment in vocations such as IT/ITES/BPO, retail, banking and hospitality. In addition, Samarthanam will support the higher education of 150 differently abled and underprivileged youth.

TechnoServe Inc.: Creating Employment and Empowerment through Youth Development (CREEYD) Program will train 1,250 college students at TechnoServe centers and create placement opportunities. TechnoServe will also create an ecosystem of trainers and employers to benefit youth from underprivileged backgrounds in their final/pre-final year of graduation. The program will consist of English-language training, personality development training, employer-led subject matter training, training on managing personal finance, along with career counseling.

2016 IIGP Eligibility Criteria and Rules & Regulations

Eligibility to apply:

All applicants to the 2016 India Innovation Grant Program should comply with the following:

  • Be registered as a not-for-profit entity such as a Society, Trust, Section 25/ Section 8 Company
  • Be registered with the Ministry of Home Affairs under the FCRA regulation
  • Be in existence and have a consistent track record during the immediately preceding three financial years in India in areas of financial education and economic empowerment of low income households.

Submitting applications:

Interested NGOs should submit their applications in the Citi Foundation prescribed format only. Applicants are required to complete all the sections mentioned in the application forms.

Conditions of the program:

By submitting the application, the Applicant acknowledges and agrees that:

  • All costs incurred in the preparation and submission of the application will be the responsibility of the Applicant and will not be reimbursed by Citi Foundation
  • Citi Foundation reserves the right to reject any and all applications received in response to this communication, without providing any reason whatsoever
  • Citi Foundation reserves the right to seek further information and documentation from the Applicant
  • All information provided by the Applicant in its application is true, complete and accurate in all respects and the Applicant is not aware of any material facts which it has not been disclosed
  • The Applicant acknowledges that Citi Foundation is launching the application process without any risk, responsibility or liability of any manner or nature whatsoever attaching to or devolving upon Citi Foundation


Program AnnouncementFebruary 8, 2016
Last date to submit project application [via the prescribed Concept Note format]March 25, 2016
Announcement of the ‘2016 India Innovation Grant Program’ partners July 2016
2016 IIGP Application Form

Kindly note that the application submission to the 2016 India Innovation Grant Program is now closed. For any queries, you may write to us on

Previous Programs

2015 India Innovation Grant Program

In its second year, the Citi Foundation supported 2015 India Innovation Grant Program was announced in July 2015 to encourage and accelerate innovative financial education and capability programs that expand financial inclusion for low-income populations. The program aligned with the government’s agenda to create opportunities to inculcate a habit of savings.

After a robust review, Citi Foundation invested INR 130 Million to support eight innovative ideas selected from 296 applications that were received for the 2015 India Innovation Grant Program. Collectively, these initiatives promise to bring about a meaningful financial behavioral change in the lives of more than 300,000 individuals across India.

Our 2015 partners are:

  1. 1. American India Foundation Trust
  2. 2. Anudip Foundation for Social Welfare
  3. 3. Grameen Foundation
  4. 4. Kalighat Society for Development Facilitation
  5. 5. MelJol
  6. 6. Navya Disha Trust
  7. 7. Pratham Education Foundation
  8. 8. Swadhaar FinAccess

About the selected programs and NGOs:

  • Proliferating financial education in schools through interactive digital curricula by American India Foundation Trust

    Through this program, AIF will develop a standardized and measureable financial education model that can be scaled and institutionalized. It will deliver financial education to 12,000 children in Class 7 integrated with the school curriculum using technology and innovative teaching tools.

  • Enabling cashless transactions for rural women by Grameen Foundation

    The program will serve at least 27,000 low-income women in Uttar Pradesh who will be trained by 400 frontline workers to uptake the mobile channel for financial services. The program will also roll out relevant mobile financial services and develop e-learning solutions to adequately train frontline workers.

  • Encouraging a financial behavioral change amongst women pavement dwellers by Kalighat Society for Development Facilitation

    The program aims to provide financial services to 50,000 urban low-income women in Kolkata by building the capacity of women self-help groups, their leaders and federation of slum and pavement dwellers. In doing so, the initiative will create an enabling environment in which community members will move towards financial inclusion by changing their behavior, using their own assets and engaging more confidently with formal financial services.

  • Inculcating responsible financial behavior amongst youth through the Aflateen program by MelJol

    The program aims to reach over 40,000 children and 160,000 adolescents. Teachers, facilitators, caregivers and self-help group leaders will be trained to deliver home, community and school-level lessons to enhance financial literacy and promote entrepreneurship. This year’s program will also feature an entrepreneurship lab to help participants discuss and scale their ideas, develop proposals and start their businesses.

  • Delivering financial education to rural women through ‘schools on wheels’ by Navya Disha Trust

    The program ‘Buzz India’, will be expanded to economically empower 6,000 rural women in Karnataka by providing them with tailor-made tools and solutions for business and financial growth. Last year, the program helped participants increase savings by 117% and drastically reduced their reliance on private money lenders. The 2015 grant will enable Navya Disha to deepen engagement, expand geographic coverage and leverage technology and program ambassadors.

  • Empowering women to manage finances digitally by Swadhaar FinAccess

    The program will encourage bank account usage amongst women in Mumbai. The app will capture the socio-economic information of households or individuals suggest appropriate financial products and will be linked to participants’ bank accounts to enable transactions. The app will be piloted amongst 250 women with peer educators as coaches and will then be rolled out to 5,000 community members in Mumbai.

  • Digital Inclusion of Young Aspirants and Creating sustainable livelihoods for migrant youth by Anudip Foundation for Social Welfare

    The program aims to provide a digital livelihood skills training program to 1,000 low-income youths in Vishakhapatnam and Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh. The 12-week training program is focused on IT, English, workplace readiness and financial literacy and aims to place at least 720 participants in jobs upon completion.

  • Livelihood Retention and Creating sustainable livelihoods for migrant youth by Pratham Education Foundation

    The program aims to create a viable financing model to fund vocational skills for the under privileged, equipping low-income students with the skills and knowledge required, enabling 7,000 participants to secure employment.

2014 India Innovation Grant Program

With an aim to promote innovation and increase the impact of its grant-making in India, Citi Foundation launched its first-ever Innovation Grant Program in India to encourage non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to develop innovative financial education and capability programs that expand financial inclusion. Citi India was the first in the Asia-Pacific region to pioneer this approach.

Of the 31 applications received, programs from seven NGOs were selected after a robust review and approval process by the Citi Foundation. In addition to helping consumers build critical financial skills, these programs also fostered adoption of positive financial behaviors by over 600,000 beneficiaries.

The following non-profit organizations received grant funds, which were used to improve consumer financial decision making while utilizing technology, lowering the cost of delivery and enhancing impact:

  1. 1. American India Foundation Trust
  2. 2. Grameen Foundation
  3. 3. MelJol
  4. 4. Navya Disha Trust
  5. 5. Parinaam Foundation
  6. 6. Swadhaar FinAccess
  7. 7. Pratham Education Foundation

Of particular note is each organization’s focus on attaining scale.

About the selected programs and NGOs:

Technology enabled financial education in schools by American India Foundation Trust (AIFT):

Through this particular program, AIFT has adopted technology enabled financial education in schools using audio visuals and smart classrooms as an integral part of the school curriculum. Part of this approach will also be to measure changes in financial knowledge, skills and attitude and thereby measuring the changes to be able to adapt quickly and improve reach. The program is aimed to impact 12,000 children in 200 city schools in Delhi, Orissa and Punjab.

The program will be concluding in April 2016.

Integrated mobile financial education and mobile financial services for financial inclusion by Grameen Foundation:

This particular innovative program by the Grameen Foundation puts to use mobile phones, to deliver financial education to 15,000 female microfinance borrowers in Uttar Pradesh, along with equipping them to use the mobile banking services. The integrated program is being executed in partnership with Oxigen – a telco-agnostic operator and Sonata – a leading microfinance institution based in Uttar Pradesh.

The program will be concluding in June 2016.

Innovation through 'Aflatoun' financial and social education by MelJol:

The program supported expansion and scaling-up of the NGO – MelJol’s ‘Aflatoun’ and ‘Aflateen’ savings and entrepreneurship programs. The program worked towards impacting school children across nine states, including mothers with young children who are members of self-help groups as well as children residing in orphanages.

Of the total 476,608 children who were reached out through this program, 75% of the children have demonstrated financial knowledge and skills and have initiated savings either at home, school or in the banks. The program reached out to 446,406 children through 1041 government schools besides an additional 202 children from orphanages and another 30,000 through rural self-help groups. 316 participants from the intervention through community and orphanages have demonstrated employability skills.

BUZZ India by Navya Disha Trust:

The program – ‘Buzz’ – a mobile school is modeled on the successful mobile health-clinic initiative by the Bangalore based foundation Navya Disha. The mobile bus travelled across villages in the southern state of Karnataka to deliver financial education to about 3,000 women.

Equipped with an AV and training material to set up a mobile ‘classroom’ anywhere in a village, the traveling bus not only focused on imparting financial inclusion knowledge but also prodded the women participants towards entrepreneurship.

A survey among 10% of the women who completed the survey established that 66% of the participating women were able to articulate their income, savings and profit for the first time besides also managing to increase their saving by 117%. 13% of the participants have already taken their learnings forward to become first-time entrepreneurs, 20% have post program, expanded their businesses, and 9% who already ran small enterprise have gone onto start a second one. The most significant impact has also been in enabling 95% of the participants to move away from private moneylenders – an important need, especially in a rural context.

Diksha financial literacy program by Parinaam Foundation:

The program started by supporting the scaling-up of the ‘Diksha’ financial literacy program run by Parinaam Foundation focusing on urban and semi-urban low income microfinance women borrowers across India. The aim was to ensure the migration of participants into a formal financial system on completion of the program.

The program managed to enroll 54,874 low income beneficiaries and over 86% of those enrolled have completed all five modules and successfully been certified as 'Rupee Ranis’ (‘Queen of Money’ – a term the program has internally coined in recognition of those completing the entire module).

Besides reaching out to 14 states in India including Bihar, Delhi, Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, and Maharashtra among others, the program managed to open 18,377 savings accounts for beneficiaries who were part of the program. 29,649 of the ‘Diksha’ certified beneficiaries have availed cashless loans disbursement and an additional 2406 have been helped to incrementally increase their wherewithal to avail higher ticket individual loans.

88% of the enrolled participants having completed their coaching on the nuances of financial independence completely understand the need to still borrow within their capacity, completely understanding the parameters of their loans and are able to ask relevant questions – on the interest rates being charged, their monthly as well as overall EMIs, as well as the tenure before they take a loan from any source, moving them closer to financial inclusion.

Financial literacy and inclusion program by Pratham Education Foundation:

The program works towards equipping students, currently undergoing training in hospitality or entrepreneurship at Pratham’s training centers, with the concepts and techniques to effectively manage their finances and savings. Through the program, Pratham focused on scaling-up the existing award-winning job skill and placement program, and in being able to position participants to pay back a part of the training cost upon employment – a direct and sustainable financial model for the organization itself.

The program was curated to work on two levels – to reach out to the first timers and also to work on more critical post placement need reaching out to 4076 youth participants across nine states.

A total of 1827 youth were trained in financial literacy and hospitality at Pratham’s Hospitality Training and Entrepreneurship Centers pan India. Of these, 1590 youth have been successfully placed in jobs.

Of the 2249 beneficiaries trained in the entrepreneurship oriented programs through 5 centers, 187 micro-entrepreneurs have already been supported to set up their micro-enterprises while 20 more micro-enterprises are currently underway to create a total of 207 micro-entrepreneurs.

Besides creating bank accounts for the participating youth, Pratham through this program, is extensively tracking post-placement retention, fees collected under the ‘Learn Now, Pay Later’ model and entrepreneur income through its ‘Salesforce MIS system’. The program has managed to increase the retention of these youth at jobs to nearly 75% while entrepreneurs and those completing the hospitality course managed to significantly improve their average income.

Pratham through a network of post-placement coordinators continue to survey the participants and have reported a 70% channeling of income amongst these participants into savings.

Digitization of traditional financial education material by Swadhaar FinAccess:

The program worked towards digitizing existing financial education modules and making use of computer tablets to change the way financial education is being delivered to urban lower income participants in Mumbai. With an aim to reach 7,500 individuals, Swadhaar has made its modules interactive, moving away from a center-based teaching approach to peer-teaching and eventually to a self-learning approach. This has already resulted in reduced costs of infrastructure and trainers, as opposed to traditional classroom teaching in existing financial inclusion centers of Swadhaar that provide financial education and counselling to their customers and the general population living around the centers.

The program will be concluding in March 2016.

Contact Us

For additional information, you may reach out to:

Citi Corporate Citizenship Team : Shahin Dastur and Ria Vaidya