Should Companies Refocus Community Efforts from Philanthropy to Pro Bono Services?
By Amanda MacArthur, VP, CDC Development Solutions, for CSRwire
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.
Over the past few years, companies such as IBM, Pfizer, PepsiCo and Dow Corning have sent employees on skills-based, pro bono, short-term volunteer assignments in emerging markets for leadership development, product innovation opportunities and to better understand emerging markets while providing much needed assistance and enabling skills transfer. Now, companies can also send their employees on volunteer assignments that link directly to U.S. global development goals that help solve some of the world’s most pressing issues – clean water, education, food security and healthcare.
The Center of Excellence for International Corporate Volunteerism (CEICV) is the result of a new partnership between the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and IBM, which operates the largest skills-based International Corporate Volunteer (ICV) program. CEICV, which is implemented by CDC Development Solutions, enables companies to learn how to create and manage International Corporate Volunteer programs and highlights the potential for these programs to support broader development goals in critical emerging markets around the world. The aim is to help build the capacity of beneficiary organizations in emerging markets through short-term partnerships with highly-skilled corporate volunteers.
Ghana: The First Team
Last year, Ghana was ranked the world’s fastest growing economy. Yet, services in some areas of the country are not advancing as quickly as needed. Ensuring basic, quality healthcare remains a challenge, especially in rural areas.
Each year, millions contract malaria – the country’s leading cause of death in children under five, and infant and maternal mortality is high. While treatment is available in certain areas, the infrastructure does not yet exist to provide this same level of healthcare country-wide. Thus, what are otherwise treatable illnesses can become debilitating and can hurt Ghana’s economic growth.
Ghana’s Ministry of Health, supported by a USAID-funded DELIVER project, laid out a five year Supply Chain Master Plan to ensure access to medical care to the families who need it most. The plan calls for a new Ministry agency to manage drug and healthcare distribution country-wide.
But before initiating such a plan, a number of questions need to be addressed. What information system can be put in place to track medical supplies across the country? What are the associated costs? What are the risks of changing the existing structure within Ghana’s Ministry of Health?
Last April, IBM assembled a team of 12 employees to help answer these questions on what would become one of the first USAID/IBM Partnership supported trips. Drawing on their expertise in finance, project management, sales and technology, the employees travelled to Ghana for one month and consulted on a pro bono basis.
Continue reading what 12 IBM employees were able to accomplish on CSRwire Talkback. And don’t forget to add your perspective to this important dialogue: How can business best help communities grow, develop and prosper? Write to us at email@example.com or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.