In 2005 after completing my Masters at The George Washington University’s School of Business, I jumped at the opportunity to serve as a Volunteer Advisor with CDC Development Solutions. I was going to Lebanon! Our mission: to provide recommendations for USAID-Lebanon’s five year strategic plan. I was brought on as the tourism specialist while my peers focused on IT, agriculture, and governance.
Africa has reached a turning point. Anyone paying even a modicum of attention must now recognize that the African continent has an abundance of natural wealth, investment is on the rise, and its population is young, large, and increasingly affluent. Yet, one key ingredient is missing: Africa lacks high-quality managers – across the private, public and NGO sectors - with the skills and competence required to translate the opportunities of the next decade into greater prosperity and a better life for all.
My project as a consultant for Al Kawtar concluded at the end of December; the month of January was vacation time for me to visit family and friends. Yet the months of December and January have brought about interesting twists and turns for Al Kawtar.
Towards the end of last year, the Sistema Biobolsa management team met on several occasions to plan our strategy for 2013. Mostly on the weekends, withdrawn from our day-to-day operations and responsibilities that can distract us - our planning sessions have been intense. What initially began as a not-so-ambitious session to define our 2013 operations budget turned into several strategic planning meetings that led us to reshape our organizational structure, goals, and objectives for the coming year. The unique opportunity that a new fiscal year can bring to a company should be taken advantage of; in this instance, it is finally the right moment to implement some big changes.
Despite the beautiful weather the past couple of months have been a trying time for Al Kawtar. The challenges that we have been facing and are continuing to try to overcome have taught us something very important. Whereas we have known for a long time that the business culture in North African countries is hierarchical and the management style very much top-down, we have not always understood what these traditions imply for our project…
Known as the “Chicago of South America”, Rosario is Argentina’s third-largest city and is growing fast. Located in the Pampas, the breadbasket of Argentina, Rosario is only a four hour drive from Buenos Aires. The city lies on the banks of the Parana River, the cornerstone for the city’s connectivity, tourism, recreation and booming trade, and is well known for its urban green spaces, public monuments, parks, and plazas, and well-regarded for its quality of life, eclectic architecture, and natural beauty. Argentinians consider the city very progressive, and for a long time, it has pioneered sustainability programs and private-public partnerships that have now become models for many other cities in Latin America.
Last month, I was excited to lead an MBAs Without Borders (MWB) workshop at the 2012 Net Impact Conference. Net Impact is famous for its innovative approach that rejects the dry, traditional conference format, bringing together “impact makers” who share a commitment to create a sustainable world. Committed to matching our host’s expectations, we rejected the typical panel for a hands-on workshop designed to get our room full of MBAs thinking about real-world innovation.
This October, CDC Development Solutions (CDS) sent a team of 13 IBM Corporate Service Corps Volunteer Consultants to Arequipa, Peru for 30 days. During that time, the CSC team had the opportunity to work with five different local organizations including OGD Arequipa, a destination management organization, CESEM, the non-profit arm of the local Chamber of Commerce, Peru 2021, a Peru-wide organization aligned around corporate social responsibility, and El Taller, an NGO improving the local capacity of Arequipa via innovative capacity building.
As 2012 quickly comes to a close and another great year of ICV programs wrap up, it’s a good time to think about the “now what?” Virtually without fail, our pro-bono consultants report in their post-assignment surveys that their time on project was a life-changing and transformational experience. They return to their daily lives more energized than ever to make a difference in the world. After providing their employees with such a transformative experience, companies sometimes struggle to capitalize on this passion, and even risk employees looking elsewhere for fulfillment. Here are five ways to better engage your high-performing employees upon their return:
When I walked into Net Impact, I hit a wall. A wall of inspiration. The environment was buzzing, filled with highly educated (and smart!) individuals who could be making a lot of money, and instead are choosing to spend their time solve big global problems.CDS was excited to lead a workshop with a group of more than sixty MBAs.
Each team member, most of whom were MBAs, brought to the table the essence of what each had learned in business school: team work, leadership, and collaboration. Most exciting, it wasn’t just a room full of MBAs from Harvard, Columbia, and Stanford. MBAs from business schools from around the world brought their unique perspectives to a high-octane ninety minutes. Surrounded by strangers, without any icebreakers or warm-up, the room full of MBAs jumped right in to find the best solutions to the problem at hand.
Sri Lanka is making a push to increase local content in the oil and gas industry there. Such demands are becoming more common and are raising important questions, such as the role of national oil companies in local content. This question came up extensively during a master class on local content that I taught at the North Africa Oil and Gas Summit in Vienna, Austria for representatives from national and international oil companies from Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, and Egypt, among others.
On October 19th, the very first IBM Corporate Service Corps (CSC) team was deployed to Senegal!
The 14 person CSC team has been nicknamed a “mini United Nations” as participants hail from Brazil, USA, England, Ireland, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, India, Japan, and Singapore. Though from very diverse backgrounds, the participants connected immediately and were eager to begin their month-long assignment together.
Most of CDS’ International Corporate Volunteer programs undertake projects in emerging markets around the world, but more recently, we have been developing a number of U.S.-based programs to support communities in need. This year, PepsiCo continued their leadership development program, PepsiCorps, to support an international clean water project based in Bhorugram, India while also undertaking a domestic project in Albuquerque, NM.
This article was originally posted on Alliance’s website.
As the practice of impact investing matures, evolving from a peripheral concept to a mainstream practice, the momentum around this nascent industry is growing. At a time when governments, foundations and donors look to do more with less, impact investing offers a means to generate social and environmental value with the potential for financial returns. However, this opportunity has often been limited by an overall weak capacity on the demand side of the equation and a resulting lack of investment-ready projects. These limitations undermine the impact investment industry’s quest to reach maturity, scale and sustainability.
“The team has been here for two days, and they have already changed the way we think,” said Ilze Meintjes, Executive Director of Employment Solutions for People with Disabilities, an organization that gives disabled individuals an opportunity to work for a living. “They have breathed fresh air into our organization.”
I posted a blog last week about the changing attitudes of the oil industry toward local content and how welcome that change is to those of us focused on local economic development and jobs creation in countries with hydrocarbon resources. Of course, the big question remains: how might operators and their contractors facilitate local content development?
We've seen ICV programs grow immensley over the past few years, and I was extremely excited to have the opportunity to share why more and more companies are sending their top talent on pro bono assignments to local markets around the world. Listen below for the full webinar, and click here for the feature slides.
Eleazar Ortiz, an MBA graduate of New York University is participating in the MBAs Without Borders program in Mexico with Buen Manejo del Campo, a corporation that produces, distributes, and installs Sistema Biobolsa, an award winning high quality biodigester system designed for small and medium farmers. Be sure to also read his first and second blog.
Sistema Biobolsa biodigesters are robust and durable, with a 15-20 year life span in the tough conditions of small farms. They are designed with standard sizes as a complete kit that can be easily deployed and installed without high levels of technical training. This reduces the individual design burden and costs of individual projects, and gives small biodigester technology the ability to scale efficiently to the hundreds of millions of small farms that could utilize the technology. Being modular, systems can grow as small farms grow, and investment in the technology can be gradual.
Recently, an article appeared in Ghana Business News (GBN) discussing how the absence of local content legislation in Ghana is holding back its citizens and businesses from participating in the oil and gas industry, which has seen a boom in the oil-rich Western Region.
A couple of months ago, I had the opportunity to travel to Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, for CWC Group’s 14th Gulf of Guinea Oil & Gas Summit. I have participated in this event in various locations for the past several years, yet this year I noticed a distinct change in tone on the subject of the amount and value of jobs and contracts going to local individuals and businesses, otherwise known as local/national content.
In past years I heard largely industry dissatisfaction with the unrealistic nature (even unfairness) of the local content requirements and expectations. This year I sensed a rapidly shifting ground where this subject is concerned. As leader of the National Content Seminar I arrived prepared to make the compelling arguments for why the industry should invest in local content: risk management; community engagement; existing or upcoming legislation; and just because it’s the right thing to do to ensure that citizens can participate in the benefits of their own country’s natural resources. What I found was that industry was prepared to make the arguments for me.
With SAP wrapping up its first Social Sabbatical program, we’ve got a great video that shows the team in action and chronicles the work they did supporting local organizations in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. SAP is sending more teams to India and South Africa this October, so check back for more updates!
I am just finishing my MWB assignment working on a USAID funded project with PATH Uganda to conduct a direct-sales pilot to disseminate improved cookstoves in peri-urban Uganda (my earlier blog post). The product we are trying to promote is the Mwoto stove. It is a gasifier stove that takes firewood and produces charcoal (instead of ash), which can be reused in other stoves. On paper, the stove looks to have so much potential: cooks fast, reduces smoke and consequently indoor air pollution, uses firewood, agricultural waste like twigs, maize cobs and even papyrus. As the flyers claim, the Mwoto will change your life!
Mark your calendars! Our 4th Annual International Corporate Volunteerism Conference will be held on April 11-12, 2013 in Washington D.C. Be sure to read about our sponsorship opportunities, and in the meantime, check below for some video interviews from last year's conference, where we sat down with Ernst and Young's Lisa Nussbaum and Tyler Schleich to talk about their company's Corporate Responsibility Fellowship program.
To celebrate CDC Development Solution's merger with the U.S. Center for Citizen Diplomacy, we sat down with the President and CEO of the USCCD, Ann Schodde, to talk about the exciting future we will share together. For more information on the merger, read my previous blog post.
A day in the life of a regular mental health caregiver in Chile needs more than 24 hours. A “normal” day for the men and women who work assisting mentally challenged children and adults in caregiving institutions begins hours before breakfast time. Usually, most of them live far from work, come from low-income segments with limited education, endure overcrowded public transportation on a daily basis, and receive low wages for a job that is emotionally stressful and physically challenging, all of which leads to high turnover in the industry.
This is the third in a three part series about the shifting view of corporations toward social engagement and what they need to do to develop effective corporate social responsibility strategies. Click here to read Part 1, and click here for Part 2.
Up to now, there is no enforcement mechanism to hold companies accountable for implementing effective social engagement strategies. At the same time, some governments in developing counties, very much in need of foreign investment, may compromise human rights standards and overlook negative consequences caused by economic growth. Corporations with little CSR experience may benefit from partnering with an NGO or getting involved in a network of companies committed to social engagement in order to help navigate this tricky terrain. Some of the advantages of engaging with an NGO are:
After getting the government approval for founding Cooperative Al Kawtar 3 months ago many more bureaucratic steps followed. Apparently several other administrative offices still needed to register the newly founded organization before full-fledged operations could kick off. Truthfully, a few of these steps are still outstanding, as unfortunately our members still don’t have the long-awaited social security coverage. But our accounting office (slow and inefficient to a European eye, surprisingly professional to a Moroccan eye) is working on this and we’re once again searching to use all the available relations and connections as well to speed up the process. The process has also been slowed down by Ramadan (the Muslim month of fasting) as well as summer vacations.
This is the second in a three part series about the shifting view of corporations toward social engagement and what they need to do to develop effective corporate social responsibility strategies. Click here to read Part 1.
Corporations should consider several internal and external factors when designing a corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy.
External structure: What are the social and economic needs of the communities in which they operate? Do these deficiencies have a negative impact on their business operations? If so, what can the corporation do to help address these needs? For example, BP invested in health care programs in Indonesia in the communities where it operates to ensure its employees are healthy and productive.
I am a Senior Program Manager at CDC Development Solutions which is an NGO based in Washington, DC that designs and implements programs that leverage corporate employees to support local businesses, nonprofits, and governments in emerging markets worldwide. Earlier this summer, I had the opportunity to manage Pfizer’s 4th International Corporate Volunteerism team in Latin America. The selected city was Santiago, Chile, and the volunteer team, known as Pfizer’s Global Health Team (GHT), was comprised of 12 top talents representing 9 countries in Latin America. The team worked with three non-governmental organizations for three weeks, improving the delivery of health services for three target groups in greatest need in Chile: health caregivers, senior citizens, and cancer patients.
One of the NGOs that Yntymak works closely with is Independent Generation of Kazakhstan (NPK). The mission of NPK is to prepare orphans in the Atyrau Region in Kazakhstan for transition from life in the Kazakh state orphanage system to independent adult life. Two Tengizchevroil employees, Zhibek Balabenkova, and Elmira Utegaliyeva, are working one-on-one with orphans that the NGO serves, teaching them life skills such as how to create a budget, write a resume, and interview for a job. During the summer months all the orphans relocate from boarding school to Tulpar, a summer camp one hour's drive into the steppe.
On Saturday, August 18th, a team of nine Tengizchevroil volunteers rode out from Tengizchevroil headquarters early in the morning to visit Tulpar and spend a day with the kids. Nelly Kulikhovskaya, a pedagogical psychologist who works with NPK, advised Yntymak and the Tengizchevroil volunteers during the design phase of the program.
This summer, I joined CDC Development Solutions as an intern in Washington, D.C. It was an eye-opening experience, both professionally and personally, and I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to work there over the past three months.
Interning at CDS is certainly far from the dreaded file-those-papers-and-grab-that-latte internship one hears about too often. I participated in international development conferences, researched potential ICV program locations, and analyzed client and participant surveys to write program reports. The interns were trusted with real responsibilities and important projects. Perhaps the most significant aspect of interning at CDS for me, however, was the confirmation that working for an organization whose mission isn’t solely defined by a dollar sign is what I want--or dare I say need--to do.
This is the first in a three part series about the shifting view of corporations toward social engagement and what they need to do to develop effective corporate social responsibility strategies.
The Old View
As a young international development graduate student I remember walking into a class on corporate social responsibility (CSR) with some skepticism. After all, if you listen to the critics, CSR is nothing more than a thin gloss meant to cover up rotten corporate exploitation. Just think about the abject poverty that persists in the Niger Delta despite the millions of CSR dollars being pumped into that region by oil companies as they reap billions in profits.
Let me begin by explaining how I became an MBAs Without Borders Advisor. I majored in Russian in undergrad and have always wanted to work in a Russian-speaking country. After receiving an MBA from the Ohio State University, I decided to pursue a career in public service or in the non-profit sector. The MBAs Without Borders program in Atyrau, Kazakhstan offered a great volunteer opportunity that combined my interests in Russian and the non-profit sector.
I travelled to Atyrau for my project two weeks after graduating from the Ohio State University. Atyrau is a former fishing town that turned into an oil hub in 1979 when the world's sixth largest oil field was discovered nearby. Tengizchevroil is the biggest oil production company in Kazakhstan, with 800 employees working at its headquarters in Atyrau. I am working to promote volunteerism among these employees with NGOs in Atyrau through a volunteering program named "Yntymak". Yntymak means "unity" in Kazakh, and signifies the partnership between Tengizchevroil volunteers and the local NGOs they work with.
Belo Horizonte, Brazil is best known as the bar capital of the world, but I swear that’s not the reason I have been there three times so far in 2012. As a Program Manager for CDC Development Solutions, I am responsible for helping corporations run their international corporate volunteer programs in developing countries around the world. I have had the honor and privilege to help SAP launch their endeavor into the ICV world this year with their first pilot program in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. I got to spend the first week with the Belo Bunch (the name they endearingly gave themselves) earlier this month, and the experience was nothing less than profound and inspiring.
My third trip to Kazakhstan flew by pretty fast. I was travelling there this time around for the launch of the IBM Corporate Service Corps Kazakhstan projects on July 16. In this program, crème-of-the-crop employees of IBM are deployed on month-long assignments to provide assistance to socially-important causes in emerging economies. This team is different from the previous CSC team that worked in Kazakhstan in 2011, in that their goal is to provide technical assistance under USAID’s Center of Excellence for International Corporate Volunteerism (CEICV). The CEICV partnership between IBM and USAID aims to both increase the sustainability of assistance impact and to further promote International Corporate Volunteerism as a way to extend the amount of highly skilled technical assistance to local organizations. You can learn more about the CEICV here.
International Corporate Volunteer (ICV) programs are often highlighted for their potential as leadership development programs. We don’t spend a lot of time, however, discussing exactly why these programs are so influential in bringing out the best in already top performing employees. Using PepsiCo’s PepsiCorps program as an example, I thought I’d break it down.
As a quick background on PepsiCorps, a team of eight PepsiCo employees – selected through an application process – traveled to Ghana for four weeks in October of 2011. While living and working together in Denu, in the Volta Region of the country, the team was divided into two and worked four days a week on two projects: supporting the district water boards to improve management of clean water resources and working with local communities to promote eco-tourism as a means of generating additional resources for clean water and sanitation. On Fridays, the PepsiCorps team visited local primary and junior high schools to support hygiene education. So how do these projects develop leaders?
Catadores are the heart and soul of ASMARE, an association of hundreds of recycling professionals located in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, and the reason the organization was created 22 years ago. They are also the reason that I’ve spent nearly four weeks in southeastern Brazil, creating an internal and external communications plan for ASMARE with two fellow SAP colleagues – Lena, from product development in Germany, and Jan, from internal education in Canada.
CDC Development Solutions is proud to welcome Harry Pastuszek to our staff this week. Harry will join us as head of our Local Content Practice Area after six years with Bechtel, working most recently as Sustainable Development Manager for Bechtel’s Mining and Metals Business Unit based in Brisbane, Australia. Prior to joining Bechtel, Harry spent seven years working in a variety of roles in the Environment and Social Development Department of the International Finance Corporation.
The third largest city in Brazil, Belo Horizonte (BH), is no different than any other city or town in the world in that it produces tons of trash each day. Unlike other places, BH boasts thousands of “catadores,” who remove the garbage, usually at night when there is less traffic, cart it to a central collection facility that is crawling with rats (but there are enough dogs to chase them away), and separate by gloveless hand their massive load into reusable recyclable materials – paper, cardboard, plastic, etc. While there is no exact translation of “catadore,” since it’s a Brazilian profession, the Portuguese word roughly translates to garbage collectors or collectors of recyclable materials.
CDC Development Solutions (CDS) and the U.S. Center for Citizen Diplomacy (USCCD) are proud to announce the merger of the two organizations effective July 19, 2012. USCCD will officially become an operating division of CDC Development Solutions. Given their parallel missions centered on constructive global engagement, the two organizations are joining their efforts to multiply their impact. This merger will significantly expand the reach and capabilities of both entities within the U.S. and abroad.
The value of applying one’s newly learned skills through hands-on training cannot be understated. When it comes to applying for a job as a recent MBA graduate, Shawn O’Connor, a Harvard Business School graduate and founder of Stratus Prep and Stratus Careers, notes, “one of the biggest mistakes I see is applicants relying too much on their educational credentials, thinking that these alone set them apart and should automatically get them the job.” Employers place a high premium on experience, valuing the skills and knowledge of seasoned professionals over those of newly minted graduates. Academic pedigree, while still important, plays an increasingly less central role in determining success, particularly among the proliferation of MBA graduates in recent years.
After spending a week working at ASMARE, an association of “catadores” or garbage collectors in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, I have come to truly appreciate the staff’s unrelenting commitment and passion to reduce poverty and homelessness. By providing meaningful employment to many of the city’s outcasts and neglected, whose livelihood depend on collecting and separating garbage, ASMARE is more than just an employer to its nearly 200 official collectors. It’s a provider of hope and a path to a new life that includes housing and access to healthcare and education.
Any guess what SAPers Monika Bloching, Olena Demeter, Judy Hoffman, Heike Kolar, Tijs Van Lier, Jan Seger, Michael Wachter, Andre Wagner and Evan Welsh have in common?
Let me give you a few hints:
They are all currently on assignment in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
They all have a passion for blending social impact with delivering business results to transform operations for clients.
They call themselves The Belo Bunch.
They are about to embark on a once in a lifetime experience.
They are the first pilot participants of SAP’s Social Sabbatical!
The SAP Social Sabbatical is an innovative learning opportunity for SAP high potential employees to contribute their time and talent to working with entrepreneurs and small businesses in emerging markets, a primary area of focus for SAP’s social investments.
Yesterday, Fast Company expert blogger Alice Korngold wrote a great piece on CDS’ MBAs Without Borders (MWB) program and the benefits of overseas assignments for recent MBA grads. More and more employers are placing a high amount of value on management experience in emerging markets - an experience that is not always easy to obtain. Programs like MWB provide a venue for business school grads to work in emerging markets while providing their skills and expertise to organizations that might not be able to access them otherwise.
This article originally appeared on CSRWire. It is the first in a six-part series highlighting innovative trends in skills-based volunteering from pledge companies of A Billion + Change, a national campaign to mobilize billions in pro bono and skills-based volunteer services from corporate America.
Skills-based volunteering is on the rise. In 2011, four times as many companies sent employees to volunteer professional skills in countries such as Ghana, India and Nigeria compared to just six years ago according to the CDC's 2012 International Corporate Volunteer Benchmarking Survey. Volunteers – and their employers – often call the experience life changing. NGOs, nonprofits, government agencies and other organizations say expertise in areas such as technology, supply chain management and marketing allows them to advance in ways they otherwise never could.
In my first article in this blog series about how the private sector’s self-interest can put billions of dollars into creating new family and national wealth, economic growth and economic opportunities in developing countries, I introduced some of the recommendations presented in a recent report I co-authored for the Center on Strategic & International Studies. I called for a new and cost-saving role for donors such as USAID who can use timely and targeted interventions to help local businesses capture more and more of multinational corporations’ massive “spend” in their global supply chains.
While I was in the process of completing my MBA, I found myself intrigued about two issues. First, you have this massive cohort of grads with a considerable amount of theory in their brains, but no actual practical experience. Second, there is an even larger set of companies in developing countries with no resources to attract talented individuals. I was (and still am) amazed that these symmetrical problems actually exist.
Then I heard about the MBAs Without Borders, who not only pair these two groups together, but they manage to multiply the number of people they benefit. The mechanics of this organization are remarkable and I recommend you read more about what they do and how they do it. I want to talk about my experience and especially what I took out of it.
The drive to use “local content” in the procurement policies and supply chains of multinational corporations is going to increase – and increase in scale and scope – in the next decade. In a recent report I’ve written for the Center for Strategic and International Studies, I offer some recommendations to government and development agencies, business and civil society on how to manage that process to maximize the benefits for both the people of developing nations and the corporate buyers. Over the next couple of weeks in this blog, I will share those recommendations along with additional thoughts.
I have stayed quiet for 3 months – in a way it has been 3 long months and on the other hand the time has passed very quickly. At times it feels that we are moving along very slowly – I believe most people who have been in a similar role recognise this feeling – but looking back we have grown a lot during these months.
In order to better organise Al Kawtar’s commercial activities we have kept improving our sales and inventory system to gather more accurate sales statistics as well as set up a sales process for older models. Similarly, to improve the efficiency of our production process we have redesigned and rearranged the storage space at our workshop as well as set up an annual planning calendar...
My name is Ravi and I have just arrived in Kampala, Uganda to work with PATH as a Sales and Marketing expert on a pilot project to promote the use of the TLUD (Top Lit, Up Draft) cook-stoves in peri-urban Uganda. PATH has been ranked as the #6 in Global Journal’s list of top NGOs in the world for 2012 and this project is a really great opportunity for me to be involved with such an innovative organization.
Kiva, a great financing connector! Buen Manejo del Campo (BMC) has recently formalized its partnership with Kiva, a non-profit organization with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. Our first month experiences with Kiva have been exciting for us and for this reason it is the topic of my blog posting today.
How does our partnership with Kiva work? In summary we upload to the Kiva website the profile of a preliminary lender, a Sistema Biobolsa potential client that requires financing for purchasing our equipment. The lender is then given a 30 day window of opportunity to receive small individual loans from Kiva lenders around the world until its funding needs are fulfilled. A Kiva lender can be anyone, willing to lend as little as $25 to someone with an investment opportunity that can help them improve their current condition. Participating with Kiva will allow us to expand our opportunities to small farmers that otherwise would not have access to Sistema Biobolsa because of our limited credit options, it will help professionalize our staff to work with microfinancing alternatives, and it will create more exposure for Sistema Biobolsa and the benefits that it presents.
This guest blog article, by Paul Klein, Founder of Impakt, originally appeared on Forbes.
In 1960, President John F. Kennedy proposed “a peace corps of talented men and women” who would dedicate themselves to the progress and peace of developing countries. Today, the Peace Corps has company. The IBM Corporate Service Corps (CSC), PepsiCorps and Pfizer‘s Global Health Fellowsare at the leading edge of a new wave of social change called International Corporate Volunteerism (ICV) that has the potential to be a game changer in the development sector.
This guest blog article, by Alice Korngold, a leading CSR consultant, originally appeared on Fast Company.
“In spite of there having been a translator to help facilitate conversations, I have never been so keenly alert to my client’s body language and every nuance of expression, as well as my own,” explained Susan E. Wedge, partner, IBM’s Global Business Services Public Sector, about her experience as a member of a pro bono consulting team deployed by IBM to help Bucharest, Romania’s civic government to create a Smarter City.
Hi everyone! I am new here and it is great to have a platform where I can share a few of my experiences with MBA’s Without Borders. My name is Eleazar Ortiz, I am of Mexican origin and I recently concluded my studies at New York University. About a month ago I started collaborating with MBA’s Without Borders.
My assignment is in Mexico with Buen Manejo del Campo, S.A. de C.V., a corporation that produces, distributes, and installs Sistema Biobolsa, an award winning high quality biodigester system designed for small and medium farmers. The company also manages a small loan fund, carbon offset assets, and works closely with a non-profit partner that focuses on education and research...
“Discover; Serve; Innovate” became our theme for the Citizen Service Corps as we developed and launched our first group in 2010. I’ve mentioned before the importance of understanding the order of that priority, and for us, it was driven by innovation. With that clarity, it was easy to see that we would need a direct link to our business development group, known at Dow Corning as the “Business & Technology Incubator,” and we had it, in the person of Chip Reeves, manager of Discovery in the B&TI.
I‘m really looking forward to April 12th and being part in CDC’s International Corporate Volunteering conference. Emerging World works with global corporations to design and manage learning experiences across Africa, Asia and Latin America. Making sure we gain maximum business benefit for these experiences is out top priority.
At the conference, I will be outlining Emerging World’s six steps to achieving impactful learning from an international corporate volunteering program, based on the experience we’ve had with clients such as Microsoft and Ernst & Young...
Namaste from Mumbai! Our team has spent a busy few days interviewing client organizations and exploring the lasting impacts of international corporate volunteer (ICV) assignments. In our short time here, we’ve met with a striking diversity of Indian organizations working in a variety of sectors:
In 2010 we were just getting started, and I had written a brief for CDC Development Solutions for our first program that was very broad.. As a specialty materials manufacturer, we were looking to immerse ourselves in under-served markets: no desk jobs for us! No teaching (well, at universities anyway). No information technology system or data base development. We wanted to be in the field. And, we wanted to work on projects that would lend us the greatest amount of insight for our future business: renewable energy, affordable housing, sustainable agriculture, and/or sustainable transportation.
I am often asked how the Citizen Service Corps got started at the Dow Corning Corporation. The truth is that there isn’t one answer. While many individuals have answers and worked hard to finally bring this idea to fruition, these are my recollections.
In the summer of 2009, then Dow Corning CEO, Stephanie Burns, returned from a meeting at GlaxoSmithKline where she was a member of the board energized by a presentation she had heard regarding their new international corporate volunteer program, PULSE, presented by Ahysia Posner Mencin, Ph. D. We sat discussing the program and its approach with vice president Marie Eckstein, and I mused, “I’ve often thought a service-learning approach would help us to see opportunities at the ‘Base of the Pyramid.’” Stephanie turned to me, pointed, and said emphatically, “I want that.”
Quantifying impact is the bane of many industries' existence - CSR, impact investing and development NGOs striving for more rigorous program assessments come to mind. Until two months ago, we had only vague ideas about how difficult it is to turn anecdotes and output measurements into impact values.
We're four graduate students in international development at the George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs. During our final semester, we complete a capstone project that is essentially pro bono consulting for a development organization. Having formed a team based on our mutual interest in private sector engagement in development, CDC Development Solutions (CDS) was top on our list of organizations to approach with our proposal.
Community service is nothing new to corporate America – spending a day contributing to the betterment of a community is an excellent way to build teamwork and re-invigorate staff. Painting a school or cleaning a park are necessary activities for our communities to be their best – but are they the best way for corporations to positively engage? Increasingly the answer is no, there are much more impactful and sustainable ways for this interaction to occur, namely skills-based volunteerism.
CDC Development Solutions’ 3rd Annual International Corporate Volunteerism Conference is just 2 months away. We are hard at work confirming a great line up of speakers and sponsors in the public and private arenas. With this year’s expanded agenda, the Conference will include interactive sessions that will look at how different companies derive business value from ICV programs. This includes linking ICV into your core business, integrating HR and leadership development into an ICV program, learning the public relations and media strategies of industry experts, as well as an update on the Center for Excellence in International Corporate Volunteerism (CEICV) and an intro to the Global Health Fellows Program II.
In the 21st century marketplace, innovation and the need to constantly seek out new ideas is critical – as we’ve seen across industry sectors, stagnation is the one of the fastest ways to lose customers and forgo potential profit. This is true in the mature markets for that require either completely new products or adaptation of existing ones to meet emerging consumer demand – whether it’s repackaging products to reach the market at the base of the pyramid or it’s redesigning a battery to withstand power surges and disruptions.
As implementers and managers of International Corporate Volunteer (ICV) programs, one area where we have not spent a lot of time on is how we identify our local partners. My colleague, Jailan Adly, in her post from Coimbatore, India correctly stated , “The key is to partner with organizations that have the capacity and innovation to capitalize on the resources they receive from their advisors.” I would like to spend some time explaining how we embark on identifying partners with these attributes and developing fruitful working relationships.
Recently I have, instead of simply advising of the most appropriate steps to be taken, also started to work hands on with the members of the “Al Kawtar” management team and to insist on implementing certain regular routines. When I tell my friends that I work with the ladies of the association to improve their managerial routines etc., I imagine that people sometimes get the idea that I’m putting together an elaborate training program. The truth is much simpler – I find that the first key to success in such a situation is time management and that is the first thing I am trying to teach the ladies. By putting together a weekly plan and then following up on this we also need to cover issues such as deadlines and prioritization. By highlighting the abundance of tasks to be performed we also take the next step and start working on improving the efficiency in performing certain tasks.
“We don’t have a jobs problem in this country; we have a skills problem.” This was how Stan Litow, quoting Thomas Friedman, began his presentation to the participants at CRO’s CommitForum! last September.
As President of the IBM International Foundation and a former Deputy Chancellor of the New York City schools, Stan has been following the startling education statistics in this country – an overall high school drop-out rate of 25%, with only 30% of high school graduates ever completing a bachelor’s degree. The global economy is increasingly knowledge-based, with an associated increase in the need for workers with post-secondary educations. Because of this, IBM and more than half of US employers report that they cannot find qualified workers.
An NGO, Business Against Crime, in Mpumalanga South Africa reported: “While the corporate teams were here, our networking web expanded and still does so today… The greatest impact was expanding the network that our company depends on -- including partner funding possibilities. The ICV teams had amazing people and negotiation skills. It made approaching organizations like our local government far easier.”
It was great to see the Wall Street Journal article, Doing Good to Do Well by Anne Tergesen (1/9/12, B-7), which clearly illustrated the multifaceted benefits companies such as IBM, Pfizer, FedEx, Intel and others receive through International Corporate Volunteering (ICV). As a win-win-win partnership, it’s also critical for us to look at the many benefits to the local organizations who host these volunteers.
Earlier this month I was in Port Harcourt, Nigeria representing CDC Development Solutions (CDS) where I led the final day of the CWC Practical Nigerian Content Forum. It was my first time in Nigeria, but immediately I could see that Nigeria is different from the other countries I have worked in. First the intelligence and technical abilities of the participants were remarkable, and the size and scope of services provided by the Nigerian suppliers is impressive. Second, there is a strong commitment by government and they are becoming more active in ensuring that local content plans are documented and followed. Finally, the international oil companies (IOCs) are committed to maximizing local content where feasible and have staffed their Nigerian Content positions to implement their strategies. I was deeply impressed, but why then was almost everyone not satisfied with the current level of local content in Nigeria?
CDS was invited to present on Enterprise Development Centers and conduct a workshop at the IQPC 7th Annual Local Content Summit in London on September 26th. The event was heavily attended by international oil companies (IOCs), government representatives, program implementers, and consultants. Based upon CDS’ experience in Supplier Development in Russia, Azerbaijan, Equatorial Guinea, and Angola CDS has been able to identify some key drivers for successful programs. One of the major ones is that coordinated, comprehensive programs require extensive collaboration between government, industry, multilaterals, and NGOs which is complicated and takes time.
One of the key elements to a successful International Corporate Volunteer assignment is matching the highly-skilled volunteer advisors with highly-impactful organizations on the ground. Through its management of ICV program, CDS has found that the opportunity for deep private sector engagement in development lies in strong public sector partners. This does not mean that they should only work with large NGOs or organizations - it is not the size of an organization that matters - but the quality of its leadership and services. The key is to partner with organizations that have the capacity and innovation to capitalize on the resources they receive from their advisors. In Coimbatore, India IBM Corporate Service Corps (CSC) is partnering with three organizations that exemplify this success factor.
I recently traveled to South Africa to the launch the 8th IBM Corporate Service Corps team in that country and was impressed to see how the Corporate Service Corps is being utilized to further expand IBM’s public sector relationships in South Africa while still providing needed assistance to local communities and organizations. The IBM team of 14 employees are based in Polokwane, South Africa for one month and are working on various skills- based projects with 3 organizations: UNDP, The Limpopo Department of Education, and the Peakanyo Manufacturing Co-operative through the Limpopo Business Support Agency.
A couple of Fridays ago, I had the opportunity to lead a “tabletop discussion” on International Corporate Volunteer (ICV) programs at the Society for International Development’s World Congress. Our table seemed to gather all kindred souls—development professionals who had worked with volunteer advisors on skills-based assignments within international programs, and who had found the volunteers to be excellent resources.
As the conversation progressed, we all acknowledged that we were fighting an uphill battle to convince the development world that volunteers really provide value. One participant asked me why I thought that was the case. I did not have an easy answer, since the ongoing resistance to volunteer assistance appears to defy reason. Over the past few weeks, I gave that question lot of thought and there are several answers that came to mind.
I just returned from delivering a five day training for impact investment professionals in Mexico City for ANDE (Aspen Network of Development Entrepreneurs). What a great group of talented and committed professionals seeking to make the world a better place through sustainable investments in social enterprises!
During this training, it was clear that there is a need for mechanisms for impact investment professionals to share their experiences and approaches on conducting due diligence, structuring and valuing companies, adding post-investment value and so forth...
"By placing future leaders into an unfamiliar situation, the (assignment) forced us all to stretch and learn a great deal of coping, leadership and team work skills. With all the ambiguity with the SOW, we each learned how to deal with the unknown productively, rather than looking for excuses and being stalled. These are crucial learning points for an organization's future leadership team and being in a completely different culture also forced us to re-evaluate our assumptions and perceptions on things we took for granted. Bottom-line is we all came out of this learning experience more equipped to lead a global multi-national company.” --ICV participant, Immediate post-assignment survey
The above quote is from a participant in one of CDS’ International Corporate Volunteer Programs. I think it does a great job of highlighting how these types of programs encourage professional and personal growth...
One emerging topic in the area of sustainable development is the creation of tools which can help value investments in sustainability programs. This can include standard CSR programs such as education, environment, or health; but most interestingly (for me) is the application to local content development programs. Local content development is the investment in programs to train and educate local suppliers so that they can participate in the procurements of international companies in their home country. For example in Angola we had a local content development (LCD) program which trained Angolan suppliers on the quality and safety standards required by the oil and gas (O&G) industry. This capacity building allowed these Angolan suppliers to qualify to bid on potentially lucrative O&G opportunities in their home country. While this is an example about O&G the model can be applied to numerous industries including mining, agriculture, and tourism.
In its June issue, Travel+Leisure asks, “Can a hotel transform a village in order to save it?” and sets out to tell the story of the revival of borgos or Tuscan village through tourism. While in more developed countries the idea that a hotel can save a village is a romantic ideal, in emerging markets tourism can either be a true lifeline to the people in a local community or their worst enemy. In emerging markets the question of “saving a village” becomes murky as the lines blur as to who the hotel is saving the village for – the community or its clients. There are however excellent examples of community revival through tourism across destinations in emerging markets...
On June 14th I presented CDS’ Angola supplier development program at the VEGA Post-Conflict Workshop which was facilitated by Dr. Jay Smith – a major contributor to USAID’s Guide to Economic Growth in Post-Conflict Countries (USAID Office for Economic Growth, January 2009). Our exchanges got me thinking about how Supplier Development Programs are relevant to oil producing post-conflict countries such as Liberia and Uganda. An eye opening statistic I took away is that 40% of post conflict countries slide back into conflict. So the importance of getting it right in these countries cannot be overstated. So what works? Professor Paul Collier at Oxford Studies has demonstrated that besides external peacekeepers, robust economic development is most critical to preventing a return into conflict...
Rapidly growing small businesses (“gazelles”) are vital for national job creation and improved standards of living, both in developed and developing countries. These gazelles need expansion financing to support their growth. While bank credit can provide some of this growth financing, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) really need risk capital (venture capital, private equity, mezzanine financing, etc.) to reach their growth potential...
I recently had the pleasure of attending the Committee to Encourage Corporate Philanthropy conference in New York City. This year’s theme was Sustainable Value Creation – how companies can have a positive impact on the communities in which they operate, on their employees and on the environment without out sacrificing the bottom line. What struck me most was the variety of ways in which companies were creating sustainable value through programs that that not only targeted external communities, but also engage their employees and made them feel proud to be associated with the business....