The Citi Congo Women Forum was created in March 2015 by Citigroup Congo CCO, Viviane Bakayoko, with the aim of unlocking Citi women’s leadership potential by inspiring progress, leading change and offering opportunities to develop talent. Over the course of the year, the Forum has held several events, including fund raising for the Marie-Chantal Kanyinda Foundation (MCKF) which oversees the schooling of young girls in the Kasai province, a breast cancer awareness campaign by participating in the Kinshasa Rose Marathon, and the organization of a Christmas event for fifty orphans with the Kinshasa-based NGO ‘’Cri Espoir’’ (Cry of Hope).
International Women’s Day being one of the most visible and all-inclusive expressions of Citi’s commitment to helping women to succeed, the Forum wanted to put an emphasis on the advancement of women as a business imperative. To celebrate this day, we decided to engage with top performing female students from the four biggest universities in Kinshasa: Université de Kinshasa (UNIKIN), Université Protestante au Congo (UPC), Université Catholique au Congo (UCC) and Ecole Superieure de Management de Kinshasa (ESMK).
As a contribution to the universities libraries, Citigroup DRC offered a copy of the former Governor’s last book ‘’Parole de Gouverneur’’; a rich summary of the DRC monetary history with his 16-year experience as Governor of the Central Bank of Congo.
The students had the opportunity afterwards to engage with guest speakers and Citi staff, while representatives of universities formally requested Citi to implement a bilateral mentoring program, contributing to upgrade student’s skills. The event was covered by national media outlets Radio Television Nationale Congolaise (RTNC 2) and Le Potentiel.
The CCO and the CIB Head started the day by attending a conference at Université Protestante au Congo, where the CCO spoke to 350 students about her background and Citi career, and about success factors to be a leader, including: boldness, integrity, motivation, focus, sharing best practice through coaching and mentorship.
In the evening, the Forum hosted a conference with 15 of the most brilliant students from UNIKIN, UPC, UCC and ESMK and Citi staff. Introduced by Nina Massangu, President of Citi Congo Women Forum & 2015 Mandela Washington Fellow. Guest speakers included high profile successful professionals such as Jean-Claude Masangu Mulongo, Citi Alumni and former Governor of the Central Bank of Congo, Ellen Masi, Public Affairs Officer US Embassy in Kinshasa, in charge of Mandela Fellowship Program, Helene Miasuekama, CEO of Canal Plus (GSG name), Yvette Ikolo, entrepreneur co-founder of ESMK and Carine Ndaya, entrepreneur and co-founder of Future Leaders Academy.
The CCO underlined the guiding principles adopted by Citi Women of inclusiveness, transparency and boldness. She emphasized the necessity for an organization like Citi to unlock its female employees’ potential by investing in capacity building, designing programs aimed at supporting women’s empowerment and giving them the recognition they deserve. Key points outlined by other speakers included motivation and the need to be self-driven and ambitious, the courage and boldness to follow one’s passion, the necessity to stay focused and to be role models, but also the importance of challenging the status quo and changing the perception about women in a professional environment.
Nina Massangu encouraged the students to work relentlessly on strengthening their skills through advanced studies, and to use setbacks and challenges as stepping stones to reach higher goals.