Venture with Impact is a startup that organizes ‘work-ations’ where professionals can travel, work and make a difference while immersing themselves in a new country and culture.
In an interview with digital nomad publication WorkFrom, co-founder Ann Davis developed Venture with Impact after receiving a sobering diagnosis of brain cancer which forced her to evaluate what she wanted to achieve professionally and generally. She left her job as an elementary school teacher in 2016 and travelled South America to learn more about her undeveloped passion for international development.
While working with various NGO’s in Trujillo, Peru, she discovered that many of them were lacking professionals in areas that could help the company grow and have more of an impact. And therein grew the idea; send professionals abroad to help develop these social companies, while they both broaden their professional experience and have the chance to experience a new culture.
“Our mission is to expose professionals to new cultures, people, and ideas,” Davis told WorkFrom. “From my experience, the best way to do that is to work with the local people to gain a better understanding of the community and the city that you’re living in.”
The company offers “Venturers” a minimum of four-week placements at $1500 a month, with discounts for longer stays. They organise accommodation, flights, a sim card, workshops and guarantee a good wifi connection, as well as social activities to help the group of professionals explore the area and be immersed in the culture.
But, finding the right fit for both the company and the professional can be a painstaking process. They create a completely individual work role based on the professional’s capabilities and match it to the NGO that needs a helping hand.
“We interview each Venturer to get a good understanding of their professional background, specific skills, interests, and language skills. We then provide our partner with a profile of this individual’s skills in the native language and say, ‘Would you like to work with this person for this month? If so, please create a project for them.’ If they don’t have the capacity or the need to work with that particular Venturer, then we’ll go to a different organization.”
There are a plethora of volunteer abroad programs already cluttering the internet, and they have been controversial for taking large sums of money from participants, taking the jobs that locals could do, and being somewhere for such a short amount of time that it is unlikely that any long-term difference will be made. Davis told WorkFrom that she is aware of these pitfalls, and works as hard as she can to avoid them.
“That’s why we try hard to make sure that we’re doing things that are more sustainable in terms of our projects focusing on training and consulting, rather than areas where local workers could be hired,” she said. “We make it very clear to our partner organizations that they should have a need that cannot be replaced by local talent.”
The company have been working in groups in Medellin, Colombia, and have also opened programs in Chiang Mai, Thailand and Lisbon, Portugal for this year.
Digital Nomads, or professionals who work independently of their location, have seen a huge rise in the last decade as high-quality internet access is becoming more widespread. British newspaper The Evening Standard predicts that 50% of workers will be working remotely by 2050, especially as office space in cities like London, New York and Paris is becoming prohibitively expensive.
As well as this, smug digital nomads on pristine beaches plaster themselves over Instagram and Facebook feeds, lauding the freedom and cultural richness of such a lifestyle. It’s inevitable that those chained to a desk in a grey drizzly city dream of the ability to travel without sacrificing financial or professional development.
The rising wave of millenials into the labour market is also another reason why Venture with Impact is a popular initiative, as many workers in this generation place the ability to make a social difference higher than rates of pay or other benefits.
Coworkation and RemoteYear are two other companies that offer placements for people who have the ability to work remotely to do so, but are based more on professional development than social initiatives. Venture with Impact is giving a no-hassle, ready-prepared digital nomad experience with a social responsibility twist for those who just want to dip their toes into the rising tide of remote working.