newsletter

The best time to plant a tree

Most of us humans tend to take polarization as a given fact of life in society. It's simple, and simplistic, to place everyone and everything on a spectrum and just leave it at that.

You know the classics: Democrats versus Republicans. Tea versus coffee. Dog people versus cat people. Non-profit organisations versus for-profit corporations… wait. What?

Mind you, although I'm a dog person (sorry, cats, I'm allergic to you), I enjoy both tea and coffee. I've also enjoyed working for the non-profit and corporate sectors and am often flabbergasted at the distinction made between the two.

Contrary to what common sense would have us believe, NGO people are not hippies teletransported from the 60s who write songs about saving the planet. Nor are corporate people the money-craving knights of capitalism some paint them to be.

Having just recently landed in the world of TIE - and this is actually what initially attracted me here - I feel lucky to be a part of a social enterprise that embraces the world as it is: complex, diverse, filled with lessons to be learned from all sides. I feel even luckier to be in touch on a day-to-day basis with NGOs and corporations that are aware of, and work to tackle, the challenges faced by the less-favoured parts of the globe.

Only a few weeks into 2019 and already this is setting out to be a truly happy new year for TIE: in the coming months, we will be facilitating over 8 projects in 7 different countries across 3 continents, ranging from theater as a way to keep children off the streets in Zambia to addressing the HIV/AIDS epidemics in Northeast Brazil. And the best part is, you can live vicariously through many of our placements by following us on Instagram and Facebook, as TIE participants take over our channels to share glimpses of their unique journeys with us all.  

We all meet at the centre of the spectrum when we agree that the world must change for the better. And we'll be many steps closer to achieving this once we identify our common ground, a foundation we can build up from together, one brick at a time.

In a world of polarization, let's stick together. And as one famous proverb says, the best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now.

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What we can learn from Ikea and Formula one

Remember that time when you had a fraction of the budget, time and resources to execute a specific project? Our first reaction in those situations is to usually think ‘it’s impossible’. But, constraints can be positive, fertile, enabling, and an opportunity to do things differently. We just need to stop, and reevaluate. Look at IKEA*. The company’s DNA is all about embracing constraints. How can a little go a long way? Big dreams, small resources. And always asking challenging questions that drive solutions to constraints of price, materials or space. Or, Mercedes in Formula One*. In 2014, the rules changed. Formula One’s ruling body told the teams that the cars would have 35% less fuel for each race. Ferrari protested, and spent all of the time until the rules were enforced, fighting the change. Mercedes invested that time in new innovations, and how to approach the new reality. Mercedes ended up having the best technology and winning the world title. Needing to do more with less is now the status quo, regardless of the nature or size of your business. We all have less time and resources, and the leadership challenges of today are to be able to grow and thrive within constraints. When on a TIE programme, people learn to thrive with a lot less than they are used to, and prove to themselves of what they’re capable of, often surpassing their expectations. On December 5th we will be hosting an event in London, UK, all around 'Necessity being the Mother of Invention’, and how TIE is the link between real world innovation and a bigger role in helping to create the leaders of tomorrow. There will be a handful of different stories and perspectives of what happens when people are forced to solve problems with very few resources. What happens when they see the world differently. And just how useful that can be. You can sign up here at this link: http://BIT.LY/TIEINNOVATION Come and join us and be inspired. And please do share with others that will find this of interest. As James Dyson responded in 2013, when asked if he thought everything that could be invented has been invented, ‘No, this is a wonderful moment – a very exciting time for engineers. We have got to stop using all these resources: we no longer have to build the biggest and quickest, we have to build something that uses less: less water, less power, fewer materials. The inventions that are coming will come from new materials that answer that challenge, and from these new materials, scientists and engineers will be able to create a new generation of extraordinary products. We are at the beginning of a glorious age’. If you’re in London, hope to see you on the 5th! xPhilippa *I got these examples from a fantastic book I just read, A Beautiful Constraint. Highly recommend the read!
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Brazil through TIE’s eyes

This past Sunday, Brazil elected a new president. The electoral campaign was polarized from the start, with hate speech and attacks everywhere. Everyone I know had some sort of fight or disagreement with family members, friends, co-workers and even strangers because of the elections. 

While half of the Brazilian population was celebrating Jair Bolsonaro’s victory, the other half was scared. His far-right rhetoric, lack of experience and credentials and extremely authoritarian profile (not to mention his very public and frequent homophobic, racist and misogynistic comments) will put the Brazilian democratic institutions to the test in the next four years.  

At TIE, we work with organizations that address some of the most complex problems and with some of the most vulnerable communities in our society. We believe not only from a personal perspective but from daily observing the work of these organizations, that democratic values, tolerance and inclusion are and should continue to be the basis of all economic and social development initiatives. 

According to Eric Posner, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School, history shows that for a democracy to degenerate into an authoritarian government, the president would need to attack the press, Congress, the judiciary and the bureaucracy, subdue the state governments, attack organized civil society and stir the masses. So far, the masses have already been stirred; the state governments are and have always been weak in Brazil; Congress is widely known to be extremely corrupt; and the press, bureaucracy and the judiciary have already been under attack by the elected president and his followers (including his son, a Congressman who said one week ago that he would like to shut down the Supreme Court). The elected president has already stated that he intends to cut all funding to human rights NGOs, criminalize certain civil society groups that work for agricultural land reform and environmental issues and stated right after his electoral victory in the first round that he would "end all activism in the country".

Knowing the history of TIE, you can see how the third sector landscape usually reflects the political and economic situation in the country. When TIE started in 2006, 55 million Brazilians lived in poverty, 1 in every 4 people. There were parts of the Northeastern region that had a Human Development Index similar to Sub-Saharan Africa. As a result, the majority of the international development institutions and NGOs were here, investing in the country. But, in the years following, there was widespread belief that Brazil seemed to be improving in a number of ways, and in response, many of the NGOs and foundations left the country, as their resources and support were no longer needed. Now, it seems like that we’re going back to where we were years ago, and NGOs that fight for minorities and human rights are going to need a lot of support.

We are really glad to be based here and to be able to partner with the Brazilian civil sector in such a critical moment. We believe that civil society will play a significant role in protecting our democratic values. We support and will continue to support social initiatives and leaders who share that vision and who are actively involved in building a better future for everyone.

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You’re invited to TIE Stories: Necessity is the Mother of Invention

Imagine.

Being in a place you’ve never been to before. Working with people you’ve never worked with before. In a language you’ve probably never spoken before. You don’t have your usual team to help you out. And you have only a fraction of the money you usually have to create something. You just have an objective. And you have 30 days to reach it.

This is when real world innovation kicks in.

If you are in London, join us to hear three fascinating people share their TIE Stories: of what happens when someone from the private sector is placed thousands of miles away from home, and doesn’t have the usual resources to fall back on.

Chloe Allan from Octopus Investments spent a month in Malawi, using her Business Development expertise to help Chance for Change develop their own entrepreneurial program giving young offenders a new start in life.

Matt Roach, a Creative Director at the advertising agency Anomaly, spent a month in Mozambique working with the Marine Megafauna Foundation, an organisation whose objective is to save ocean giants from extinction.

Amira Mansour, a Learning and Development Trainer within Octopus Group, worked at Joy Street, a social enterprise that uses technology and gamification to transform education in Brazil.

Octopus Group’s CEO Simon Rogerson will also talk about why he’s involved with the programme.

Where: Octopus Investments, 33 Holborn, London, EC1N 2HT
When: December 5th 2018
Time: 6:30 - 8:00pm

To attend, please sign up at: bit.ly/TIEINNOVATION.

A big thank you to Octopus Investments for hosting this event!

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Necessity is the mother of invention

Imagine. 

Being in a place you’ve never been to before. Working with people you’ve never worked with before. In a language you’ve probably never spoken before.

You have a fraction of the money you usually have to create something. Nor your usual team.

You have an objective. And you have 30 days to reach it.

This is when real world innovation kicks in.

Here are two fascinating examples of what happens when someone from the financial industry is placed thousands of miles away from home and doesn’t have the usual resources to fall back on.

Earlier this year, Octopus Giving, which is the charity foundation set up by the Octopus Group of companies, sent Chloe Allan and Amira Mansour on TIE.

Chloe spent a month in Malawi, using her Business Development expertise to help Chance for Change develop their own entrepreneurial program whilst giving young offenders a new chance in life. Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world. It also has very high rates of HIV and AIDS. It is common for young people to lose their parents early, and as a way to get money for food, turn to petty crime or sex work. Chance For Change helps teenagers develop entrepreneurial skills, so they instead can go on to earn their own money. 

Chloe’s experience working in an investment company was key to helping Chance for Change make their entrepreneurial programme more effective. After speaking to a number of participants and doing local research she discovered that setting up a loan facility would help the programme's participants put everything they had learned into action. Through further research, access to the seed money fundraised in the lead up to the TIE programme, and knowledge of Octopus Property and Octopus Choice, she launched the loan facility which will keep growing as participants pay it back, whilst financing many more young entrepreneurs into the future.

Read more about Chloe’s experience here.

Amira is a Learning and Development Trainer within Octopus Group. Amira worked at Joy Street, a social enterprise that uses technology and gamification to transform education in Brazil. By putting her Learning & Development background in service of young students, she supported the organization in building a long-term strategy that will guide their future efforts in scaling and increasing their work. She also got to learn first-hand about the many tools and opportunities gamification offer for learners and Octopus is now applying that knowledge internally.  

When asked what the single biggest career take away from working in Brazil was. She said “Believe in yourself. If I work hard for it. I’ll achieve it. It won’t always mean I’ll get it right and it might not always be perfect but I know that if I can build relationships with people whose first language isn’t English, discover a whole new world in education and technology in a foreign country and produce work that’s beneficial to a team of people I didn’t know 30 days before, then I’ve got a lot more to achieve at Octopus. It’s exciting to draw out how I can have a similar impact back here at home. My team are driving digital learning forward and I’m excited to share my findings from Brazil to see how they can benefit us here”. 

Read more about Amira's experience here.

As the proverb says, ‘Necessity is the mother of invention’.

And this couldn’t be truer than on TIE.

We hope our TIE participants come back with fresh ideas, confidence in their leadership abilities and a stronger sense of purpose in the work that they do. And both Chloe and Amira’s experiences beautifully illustrated that all of this is possible.

You can learn more about their experiences in their own words in the video here: 

Enjoy!

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10 little known facts that could get you thinking in a different way

When on TIE, people gain important insights and information that can then be used when they return to their companies. If you’d like to learn a few more cool facts that could help future meetings when discussing emerging world growth strategies or even to help add an interesting perspective at your next dinner party, read on!

 

  1. Plankton create two-thirds of all the oxygen we breathe.

  2. Uganda has a population of 33 million people, and more than 50% of them are under the age of 15 years old.

  3. Scientists predict that we may lose half of all species on the planet by the end of this century, mostly due to human activity. Thousands of species of plants, animals, birds, amphibians and reptiles are lost every year. This trend is known as Sixth Mass Extinction (the Holocene Extinction).

  4. Giraffe are under risk of extinction and their population numbers have plummeted by almost 40% over the past three decades.

  5. The poaching of elephants for their ivory, though illegal, is still a significant threat to their survival, with up to 25,000 animals a year still being killed across Africa.

  6. In Malawi more than 85% of the population consists of subsistence farmers.

  7. In India, companies are required by law to spend at least 2% of their profits to support social initiatives.

  8. Currently, 40% of Brazilian households are headed by women. In 1995 this number was lower than 23%.

  9. The leading cause of death for children under 5, and the second leading cause of death in adults, in Malawi is lower tract respiratory infections from smoke inhalation.

  10. The Mesoamerican Reef System (MAR) encompasses the largest coral reef in the Atlantic, stretching for 1,000 kilometers from the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico to the Bay Islands in Honduras. It is the home for over 500 known fish species, some of the largest remaining population of manatees and sea turtles and  possibly the largest known aggregation of whale sharks.

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What you see when you step out of the ordinary

To step out of your comfort zone, out of your silo, and completely embrace a new culture is extremely powerful. You start to see the world in a different light, see new ways of doing things, and realise that we in the West probably don’t have all of the answers.

We’ve just finished three hugely inspiring placements: AK Parker (BBH) in Malawi, Chris Kelsch (Wieden+Kennedy) in Namibia and Jessica Lehmann (WPP’s Brand Union) in Sierra Leone.

In our final placement evaluations we asked each of them to tell us what insights they saw and what meta-level patterns they noticed leading transitions in each of the countries they worked in.

Their answers are fascinating, and we wanted to share them with you.

Enjoy a brief insight to what you start to see when you step out of the ordinary and into the unknown from our brilliant TIE alumni!

 

"There is a lot we can learn from the simplicity of their culture. A lot of the children I met appeared a lot happier than the children I see in the UK glued to screens because their parents are too busy to spend time with them.

We should not impose our lifestyle on them, it should be a choice. E.g. I heard a story about a woman who kept on breaking the well in the village. When questioned why she did this, she explained that she and her friends never asked for this well. Fetching water with her friends was an important social opportunity and helped some women escape abusive relationships. We must listen to communities and provide them with what they want and not what we think they need.

It seems it would be good to develop ways for the people in Malawi to not rely on aid so much. I believe education is key, so supporting charities like Joshua who provide education is important."

AK Parker, BBH London
Joshua Orphan & Community Care (Malawi)

"The world is big. Going to Namibia made me mentally escape the NY thought bubble. It’s easy to feel invisible in NY, but being in Africa, everything that makes you invisible in NY makes you very different and visible in the third world. After experiencing what I did, I really wish more people in the west would escape their routine and think greater. I wish more people would be able to drop their guard and have open minds and honest debates.

I wish more people would realize if you don’t ask or you don’t try, then you don’t get. You don’t have to go against the flow, but stepping outside of the flow allows you to see everything that is going on around you. And on a simple scale, seeing all the plastic bags in the middle of the desert will continue to drive me to live a more sustainable lifestyle and encourage others to as well. "

Chris Kelsch, Wieden+Kennedy New York
Giraffe Conservation Foundation (Namibia)

"When I was on TIE I discussed with my friend and co-worker, Joseph, what Africa might have been like if it hadn’t been colonized. I think Lupita Nyongo had been on a segment speaking about the same thing, and I was fascinated by it so wanted to discuss the idea with him as a writer and intellectual who understands the US as well as West Africa. We spoke about the influence that the West had had, and that given its grip on the society for so many years, the only way progress seemed possible was with the Western way of more education, infrastructure and development for Sierra Leone. If the British had never been there perhaps there could be a different way of existing for this society, and perhaps there would be other ways for people to live happily and peacefully than educating and earning in the Western model?

Many people want to reject the paternalistic forms of cultural influence that they perceive as threats to tradition and culture, though – an example is that of FGM in Sierra Leone, some people think it should be allowed if the girls chooses it, in the same way that you can choose to change your sex in America, for example. A return to traditional cultural traditions that were lost during the war – a whole generation who now have no connection to them - is seen as fundamental to Sierra Leone finding its feet again and being able to inspire a new generation to do things differently. It’s true in many cultures that a disconnection from our past, our own story, can be responsible for feeling adrift and not understanding who we are.

But when it comes to money and power, there seemed to be a disconnect between what would help Salone society and the entrenched systems that benefit those who control them. If you’re in power then you can make yourself richer, and you can enrich the people from your village. When you’re not, you’re ignored. Roads go untended to and whole communities are left without any support.

There’s a feeling in Salone that development and change have to happen, people want something different. The hard this is uprooting and overturning years of the same practices that saw politicians stealing money from aid efforts (billions went missing during Ebola and the mudslide last year). And when societies have come to expect that from their government, there’s a trickle down effect into every other echelon.

I don’t know if I’m really answering this question, but I guess I was struck by two things while I was there: firstly that it’s not our place as westerners to dictate how and what change happens, and force people to see the world how we do. And secondly that taking action to support a people with change and development must be done through means which make that change sustainable and reliable. The worst aspect of our paternalism is creating an expectation that can’t be sustained. I think back to the three wells at Mile 6, none of which worked… We can’t let communities be in that situation when they’re already being so let down by their own government. We have to help empower people and find their own way, but not be part of the same problem. Patting ourselves on the back for action that’s not making a true difference".

Jessica Lehmann, WPP & Brand Union
Purposeful Productions (Sierra Leone)
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Becoming more purposeful: challenges and opportunities

We love meeting like-minded people.

And if you're like us, you'll agree that there are few things better than sitting down with someone that shares your passion, and exchanging stories.

When I was last in London I had the pleasure to sit down with none other than Soulla Kyriacou, the COO of A Blueprint for Better Business.  

A Blueprint for Better Business is an independent charity: challenging and supporting business to have a purpose which serves society.

Through our TIE experiences, we hope to inspire the future leaders of the business world to find their purpose, to think differently, to approach their work differently and more sustainably, and in turn, change the way the sector works, behaves and thinks, from the inside, out.

A Blueprint for Better Business works with companies on a higher level to challenge them to do good.

This month, we asked Soulla and her team what their thoughts are on some of the challenges and opportunities companies have on their journey for purpose.


 

Purpose is the buzzword of the season, but A Blueprint for Better Business started talking about it back in 2012, before it was cool!  

There is a real business opportunity available for companies which choose to embrace a purpose which serves society. Ever-increasing evidence shows that purposeful companies can benefit from: increased employee engagement and motivation, enhanced reputations, improved customer and brand loyalties, and better long-term financial performance.

The word ‘purpose’ however, like many movements, fashions and popular business lexicons before it, has been co-opted to mean all manner of things, and it is now in danger of losing its original meaning.

Purpose is the ‘why’ of an organisation. It is not intended to be an inspiring tagline to add onto business cards and presentations – it is the entire premise behind why a company exists in the first place. Start-ups and infancy organisations often find it easy to define their purpose: primarily because they remember the reason that the company began. They remember that thing in the world that they were annoyed about, or the unmet need in society that they thought they could fix.

For large multinational companies which span the globe, have existed for decades (if not centuries) and employ hundreds of thousands of people, determining the ‘why’ of the business isn’t quite so easy. Their original reason for being has probably evolved several times, and different corners or regions of the company may have moved in completely opposing directions. This makes it hard to bring every department and person together under a common goal – especially if that goal is one which genuinely serves society, as opposed to just maximising short-term profit for shareholders.

There is a lot of discussion currently taking place around how these companies can ‘do’ purpose, but truthfully, purpose is not something that you can ‘do’. It is not a rebranding exercise. It is not just another interesting topic of conversation for conferences. It is something which is lived and breathed throughout an organisation. It is something which can guide and shape the decisions-made and behaviours-chosen on a daily basis, for people throughout all levels of a business.

One of the key challenges in creating a purposeful business, is not in fact, about having a purpose.

Being purposeful is less about an intention or an eloquent statement, and more about developing genuine relationships where trust and reciprocity is bountiful. It’s about inspiring a mind-set that it is people, not just resources, which create value. Being purposeful is about encouraging behaviours which respect the dignity of others, and about creating products and services which actually benefit the common good.

If all of this depth can be accurately articulated within one phrase or paragraph, then a company ‘purpose statement’ should perhaps be written. If however, the business is multifaceted to the extent that a single sentence could not sum up the reason for being in its entirety, then, rather than brainstorming how to ‘rebrand’ the business, or in trying to craft this ‘perfect’ slogan, time would be wiser spent on redesigning the structures, processes and tools within the organisation, which will encourage the behaviours and thinking that are needed in order to actually be purposeful: in order to actually serve society.

Actions speak louder than words, as they say. And in the case of purpose, the behaviours exhibited within a company, mean much more than the letters emblazoned across the wall.


 

For more information on how to become more purposeful, visit http://www.blueprintforbusiness.org/

A Blueprint for Better Business is an independent charity: challenging and supporting business to have a purpose which serves society.

We host public events and private forums. We convene experiments in corporate environments and run workshops for consultants. We contribute towards public conversation, and share our knowledge with wider society. We create safe spaces for discussion: where we are able to question long-held beliefs and assumptions about the purpose of business, and about what motivates people.

We do all this with a view of challenging people to think differently, and to catalyse action towards a more responsible, sustainable and purposeful world.

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What they really think

So I’m off on a bit of a world tour today.

An exciting few weeks ahead that will not only find me in some beautiful cities (San Francisco, Toronto, New York and London), but also meeting some absolutely fantastic people and companies.

These trips always give me the buzz I need to keep doing what I do - full of inspiration, ideas, guidance and new partnerships.

As I prepare for my meetings, and learn more about the companies that I’ll be speaking with, I feel so positive and excited about the role that the private sector is playing, and will play, in making the world a better place.

This Fast Company article beautifully illustrates how a handful of the companies that I’m meeting with are thinking, and what they are up to.

It got us thinking about what we do, and how the third sector benefits from collaborating with the private sector, and vice versa.

So, we thought that we would ask a handful of our partners around the world what they think. How have they benefited from this type of collaboration in the past? And what is their vision for a stronger collaboration moving forward?

I think you’ll find their answers really insightful.

 

"Working with the private sector has really broadened our views. In Brazil, the 3rd sector needs more professionalism (with regards to work commitment and the achievement of goals, for example) and collaborating with the private sector shows us how this is possible."

Núbia Mesquita, Espaço da Criança (Brazil)
Dhatri Navanayagam (WPP, 2017), Melissa Parsey (WPP, 2013) and Joseph Pirrie (Proximity, 2011)

"Having a private sector professional's commitment, skill set and background were fundamental to the success of our project. We learned so much from the discipline, focus and methodology used whilst developing the project, and this gave us many insights on how to better run our programs  moving forward after seeing how they approach their work."

Nivete Azevedo, Centro das Mulheres do Cabo (Brazil)
Kelly Satchell (W+K, 2016)

"Working with a professional from the corporate sector helped us identify plans, visions and critical areas of concern. We collaborated to properly define the challenges associated with our mission and see how you get to our vision. Our priorities were established and it helped us understand how to be clear about what we want and what we had in mind. After that, we were much better equipped to articulate the value of the organisation and the opportunities we had available to us."

Deborah Ahenkorah, The Golden Baobab (Ghana)
Scott Brenman (WPP, 2016) and Tiffany Winter (WPP, 2012)

"After working with a private sector professional, we had tangible and actionable next steps around the long-term sustainability of the Girl Effect. It definitely impacted how we approach short and long-term opportunities, shaping our vision and our approach. It was exceptional and has given us a really clear direction to follow."

Emma Roscoe, Girl Effect (Rwanda)
Elisa Birtwistle (WPP, 2016)

"We gain invaluable input from our partners in the private sector, especially those who have supported and worked with us for the longer term. From business knowledge to networking, we have evolved, and continue to do so, in response to the invaluable lessons our private sector partners teach us.

As for lessons we can impart, we support and advise our partners on how to make sustainable business decisions, how to work with communities to achieve maximum impact and how to mobilize their business towards a specific cause they care about and want to support.

We can achieve so much more by working together. Our vision is for a network of organisations within the third and private sectors to come together and work towards the same goal: a sustainable future for our ocean.

It should not matter what sector an organisation hails from. Each party brings a unique set of skills and values to share for the mutual benefit of one another. In the majority of the situations, the benefits are clear and both recognise the advantages, however the most challenging part is to define the best partner for each situation – accounting for common goals, ways of working and timeframes. For the partnership to be effective, both sides will need to invest time in maintaining the connection, to keep it strong and on the right path towards achieving the vision."

Frederico Carita, Marine Megafauna Foundation (Mozambique)
Lauren Smith (W+K, 2016)
 
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A message from the field

Have you ever wondered if you made the right decision doing what you do for a living?
 
Do you look around and wonder how you can find purpose and strength in an uncertain world?
 
The other day I was discussing these questions with Camila, our new Programme Manager.

Camila is from Brazil, lives here now, but spent a bit of time working in the US, France and Belgium. We were discussing her experience and what was one of the biggest takeaways from her time abroad.
 
I found her response really insightful and refreshing, and thought all of you would too.


While having lunch at work one day in Washington, one of my colleagues started telling us about the year she spent in Madagascar teaching English in underprivileged communities. Many others chipped in with their own experiences in developing countries and how they looked forward to going back to “the field”. As the only non-American and the only one who remained silent, they asked me if I planned on working on the ground one day. 

Disclaimer: I grew up with immense privilege, for no other reason than pure luck. Against the odds, I’ve always had access to good education, health care and nutrition. I might be considered middle-class here at home, but for global standards, I’m actually pretty wealthy. Why wouldn’t I want to go and directly put this privilege living in vulnerable communities in Ethiopia or Nicaragua or even here in Brazil?

Well, I spent most of my life “in the field” so I’ll be very honest: it’s not easy. And it’s not for everyone.

I told them I felt my skills were more useful in an office than in a rural community and that I really had no interest whatsoever in moving to a place with no running water and electricity. I could do it for a short amount of time – but to live like that for a year or two or more? I just couldn’t do it. Looking back, I realize that probably sounded slightly blasphemous in a group of international development professionals.

Working in developing countries seems like an obvious choice if you want to help people in need. No one will deny that it takes guts to leave a familiar environment to immerse yourself in the different and often harsh realities of other countries. And to fully understand something like poverty or violence, you really do have to see it from up close. One of the benefits of TIE placements. 

But it’s important to remember that the field is not the only place where you can make a difference long term. And depending on your skills, knowledge and experience, it may not be where you can make the biggest impact.

These communities are facing big challenges and they deserve to receive the best support possible. But what is the best way you can help?

I believe that it is by leveraging your talent for good: your professional skills, your expertise, your networks, your voice, your company and your ability to advocate for their cause.

All tools necessary to tackle global issues that you probably have in abundance, even if you don’t realize it. And you don’t have to live without electricity and running water to accomplish that.

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