Small business development is arguably one of the most important elements driving a robust economy. It’s vital that individuals have the opportunity to build their own brand, whether it be in finance and accounting, engineering and architecture, agriculture, art, or any number of specialties, which all contribute to the community at large. It’s always a good time to volunteer abroad in small business development, especially considering the amount of technology we have at our fingertips. The demand for volunteers is high, so you’ll have the freedom to choose the location and project that’s right for you.
Why Volunteer Abroad
Contributing to small business development across borders strengthens the entire global economic framework. Especially in rural or less developed regions, such as Mongolia or Africa, this type of volunteer work has visible rewards; helping locals achieve their dreams is nothing short of inspiring! Business development work is crucial to progress, and has the ability to give families the confidence to support themselves and build a future, by fostering independence.
Small business development volunteer work will give individuals the chance to really make a difference in whatever project they choose, whether sharing their own business skills or supporting the foundational components of a business’s development. As a small business development volunteer, you can help empower individuals to take control of their lives and finances, by becoming contributing members of society and ultimately creating a more sustainable local economy.
Kenya. In general, Africa offers many opportunities for volunteering in small business development. Kenya, along with Uganda and Ghana, have a high demand for volunteers to assist with mentoring, provide training for locals on basic business practices or technology skills, and helping farmers or groups of women attain financial stability. The economy in Kenya is still very much developing, so small business development programs can really help stimulate the local economy throughout the country.
Mexico. While some areas of Mexico are well developed in terms of tourism, several cities, like Guadalajara, Oaxaca, and even Mexico City, still face extreme economic hardship and overall poor living conditions. More and more Mexican citizens are looking to take control of their financial future, and are therefore creating business opportunities for themselves by selling goods or providing services of some kind. Volunteers are specifically needed in business management, marketing, fundraising, and information technology. NGOs throughout the entire region commonly offer small business development volunteer opportunities, from Ecuador to Costa Rica.
Argentina. The Argentine economy has had its fair share of challenges. In 2001, the country’s infrastructure all but collapsed, and left nearly half the nation below the poverty line without access to basic needs such as water and electricity. As a small business development volunteer, individuals can get involved in everything from nonprofits to helping the homeless to micro-financing and other sustainability-driven projects. Volunteers will have the chance to work with all types of people, including local artists and rural farmers, assisting with various business related needs, including conducting research, administrative work, implementing fair trade practices, or even teaching locals how to use technology.
Cambodia. Following a violent history imposed by the Khmer Rouge, Cambodia has struggled to find balance and rebuild its economy. While the country’s tourism sector is steadily growing, most of Cambodia still suffers from poverty, and all the social issues that come along with it. Volunteering in small business development in Cambodia can be both highly challenging and rewarding. Volunteers can work with many different ethnic groups, assisting NGOs in implementing rural development projects, increasing access to financing and advertising, or even developing ecotourism initiatives and promoting sustainable practices.
Small Business Development Volunteer Programs
Financing. It takes money to start a business, and many people in rural or less developed regions of the world simply do not have access to the funding they need to be successful. Since financing is the first essential step to establishing and promoting a business, the majority of volunteer work in small business development has to do with lending. Financing placements might entail working in fundraising, micro-financing, accounting, education, research, or administration.
Business. Small business development volunteering also means giving new business owners the necessary skills to run a successful company. This type of volunteer work focuses heavily on training in business management, communications, marketing, networking, and various other skills needed for a business to succeed. Depending on your area of expertise, you might lend a hand improving someone’s marketing strategy or provide tips on hiring and interviewing potential employees.
Female Empowerment. You will find many small business development volunteer programs that work specifically with groups of women. As the women’s rights movement grows worldwide, so does the number of women who want to achieve financial independence and stability for themselves and their families. These are women who are willing to work hard for what they want, but they still need the education and resources to make their dreams possible. Volunteers can help by assisting with fundraising and advertising, teaching basic business or financial principles, providing technology training, or simply networking and connecting business owners to the right people.
Fair Trade, Sustainability, and NGOs. Also gaining more popularity are business development volunteer programs that deal particularly with sustainability and conservation, including fair trade business practices and nonprofits. Some small business development volunteer programs have helped organize farmer’s associations, promoted business planning, and helped with production costs, among many other sustainable changes. Certain regions of the world, like the Amazon, specifically have business development opportunities in the agroforestry and ecotourism sectors.
Enact Change. This type of volunteer work is essential to the development and success of local individuals and economies across the globe. Assisting in small business development enacts real social change that is visible and measurable. That kind of reward is truly priceless.
Develop Business Acumen. Not only can you help people achieve their dreams, but you will inevitably develop your own business acumen in the process. Gain business skills, improve your communication, and learn more about finance, management, and the marketing world. This kind of experience looks great on a resume.