For a few years now, _SocialStarters has provided new opportunities for corporate employees to share skills with social entrepreneurs in an increasingly challenging economic climate. And it is precisely in challenging economic and social times that big business needs to be creative to ensure that those at the bottom of the economic pyramid are not hit even harder.

Corporates and professional services organisations perhaps hold even more responsibility to leverage their networks and expertise, and the role of private industry and business becomes integral to ensuring the world meets it’s sustainable development goals (SDGs).

Sharing skills with social entrepreneurs who need specialist support in business, such as marketing and communications, financial management, business strategy and planning – is becoming recognised as a tangible way for employees of corporates to leave a positive global footprint; and we see a shift in this trend of support at this level moving away from financial donations to expertise and time.

EY’s Vantage Program and SAP’s Social Sabbatical are two examples of such corporate program.

The EY Vantage Program led by the UK firm benefits high impact social entrepreneurs in emerging markets and supports them to scale. It aims to be a catalyst for economic growth but equally identify’s EY’s future leaders, and brings them together to support the growing movement of global social entrepreneurs. Since 2005 they have supported nearly 120 entrepreneurs in countries across Africa, Eastern Europe, Middle East and Latin America.

The short-term sabbatical assignments offered in South Africa and India by software giant SAP since 2012 provide a unique opportunity for SAP employees to hone their leadership skills, deepen cultural knowledge and connect with other emerging leaders from around the world.

“SAP is committed to helping the world run better and improving peoples’ lives by making strategic social investments that have a lasting and sustainable impact on society. Engaging our best talents in skills-based volunteering through the social sabbatical program is an important part of SAP’s social investment strategy to support emerging entrepreneurs, and we are thrilled at the level of interest in the program.” Dr. Jan Grasshoff, senior vice president, Talent, Leadership & Organization Design, SAP.

_SocialStarters was founded in 2014 when we noticed the lack of business skills training available to the rural social entrepreneurs we met in Western Kenya. The spotlight of existing support didn’t appear to stretch outside Nairobi, Kenya’s capital. To date, we have matched over 130 business professionals with grassroots entrepreneurs in Kenya, Sri Lanka, India and Brazil; and through a partnership with The Good Lab in 2017, we’re also offering placements in Hong Kong.

The _SocialStarters mission is to bring together talented business professionals with grassroots entrepreneurs tackling issues in their communities – to share skills, solve problems, generate new ideas and provide a platform for cross cultural co-creation, knowledge sharing and long term impact. We do this through individual volunteer placements – anything from 2 weeks to 12 weeks – as well as through our 6-week group structured Immersion Programme, which is running in India and Brazil in February and March 2017.

We’re looking to raise the noise levels around corporate volunteering to demonstrate the power of international work – not just for the beneficiary (ie the social entrepreneur) but for the engaged employee as well.

Our impact reporting shows that an overwhelming majority of employees who undertake an overseas assignment return with higher levels of confidence, new leadership skills, and a feeling of having participated in sustainable change on a global level.

When it comes to empowering employees through external professional development opportunities, Deloitte Consulting LLP seem to have gotten it right. Their ‘Externship Program’ in the US, offers Business Analysts and Consultants the opportunity to leave the firm for 3-6 months to explore alternate business-related leadership and management opportunities prior to attending business school. Deloitte works with each individual to connect them with opportunities that align with their interests and career goals. Professionals source their own Externship hosts, ranging from private corporations to international nonprofits and social start-ups.

Deloitte Consulting LLP even provides candidates a portfolio of Externship opportunities featuring vendors with various US-based as well as international opportunities, including _SocialStarters.

_SocialStarters now offers positions in India, Sri Lanka, and Brazil plus Hong Kong is soon to be added for travel in 2017.

We are developing conversations with professional services organisations as well as global brands and local companies who place sustainability and global citizenship high on the agenda. In addition, we’re currently offering Consultants a special packaged up 2 Week Consultancy Assignment, ideal for those who want to make a difference independently of their employer, recognising that there is a market for Analysts and Consultants who want to do something different on their vacation working to a tightly structured consultancy brief.

Contact me to discuss further – Andrea Gamson (CoFounder/Commercial Director) / +44 (0)7453 943225