In Conversation With Ann Davis, Founder of Venture With Impact

In Conversation With Ann Davis, Founder of Venture With Impact

We love traveling. The turquoise blue waters. Sandbanks fringed with palm trees. Mountain hamlets. Cobblestone streets from the medieval era. We all love traveling. What if we combine our love for travel with our knowledge and skills, to make a positive impact on society? To help preserve the environment? To help sustain the local economy? Venture With Impact (VWI), a skilled-based volunteer program helps you create your perfect holiday while you contribute to the growth of the local communities. This week, we are in conversation with Ann Davis, founder, and CEO of VWI.

1. Hello Ann! Tell us a bit about Venture With Impact.

Venture with Impact is a program that engages professionals on a one-month skills-based volunteering program, allowing them to develop professionally, rediscover purpose, and in the process, provide a positive social impact.

The participants live and travel with a group of diverse remote professionals. Together, they dig deep into the local culture with access to local events and activities. Many learn the local language through immersion or through lessons. And each professional is matched with a skills-based volunteer project that aligns with their professional skills, interests, remote work schedule, and the needs of our local partner organizations.

2. How does it work? What exactly is skilled-based volunteering?

We match each Venturer with a personalized skills-based volunteer opportunity. We match our Venturers with a project based on the needs of our organizations as well as the skills and interests of each participant. They have the opportunity to develop professionally while making an impact locally.

This is a case study from former participant Rina Obi detailing her experience in our Medellin program.

3. You tell that slow travel, particularly community-based experiences had a fulfilling impact on you – how did it inspire you to start your own organization?

Having spent time working with local non-profit organizations in Venezuela, Spain, New Orleans and other countries I was able to have a much better understanding of the culture. I spent a great deal of time with locals, learning the language, and participating in community activities. These experiences exposed me to new people, and new ways of thinking. For example, while living in Spain, I learned to slow down my pace of life, and in Venezuela, I began to better understand the incredible injustices that are taking place worldwide.

More and more I also noticed colleagues, friends, and family with the desire to make more of a social impact in their current positions, as well as travel more. This is very difficult with a 9 to 5 job.

It seemed to be such a win-win to provide an experience where professionals to travel and give back, without having to forgo their career of financial security.

4. Is Venture With Impact different from usual voluntourism? If so, how?

Venture with Impact is a remote work program with a social impact component. There are very few organizations that offer customized skills-based volunteering, that so thoroughly consider the specific needs of local organizations, matching them with a seasoned professional that can meet these needs.

Although there are a few existing programs that plan travel experiences for remote workers, there are no organizations that so thoroughly integrate and emphasize the community relationships and a cultural experience like Venture with Impact. We are the only program of its kind.

5. You currently have programs in Medellin, Lisbon, Chaing Mai, and San Miguel De Allende – is there any particular reason you chose these locations?

Our locations were chosen by our community through a survey that included a long list of popular remote work destinations. All of our locations are incredible destinations for remote work. They have reliable internet and plenty of co-working spaces and cafes with wifi. This is very important because many of our Venturers work remotely for their jobs back home throughout the program. Additionally, they are all packed with culture and a great need from local non-profit organizations.

6. How do you create a positive impact on local communities through your programs?

My co-founder and I started Venture with Impact because we both worked in international development, and noticed the lack of resources available for non-profit organizations worldwide. This is true for both financial resources, but also in terms of professional consulting and assistance. We work closely with our local partner organizations to understand their needs from month to month.

Of course, it’s not just the local organizations that benefit. The volunteering provides a local experience for professionals that can’t be had from simply traveling. They are also developing new professional skills, as well as working in an environment that is very different than their day to day job. Additionally, there is a great deal of leadership and teamwork that goes into working on their project.

7. You have listed projects in various fields such as Creative Industries, Business & Management, Education, etc. Will you also offer placements for professionals in other industries which are not listed on your site?

Absolutely! These are just a few examples of the types of skills-based volunteering our Venturers participate in. We have never had an issue with matching any of our participants, as we work with a large variety of non-profits with a range of needs in each of our locations.

8. Why do you think community-based responsible tourism is important?

With good management, community-based tourism have the potential to contribute greatly towards sustainable development and provide visitors with unique experiences.

9. What are other activities you offer for your ventures instead of their volunteering roles?

Our program includes a language crash course, and many of our Venturers continue to take language classes throughout their program. We also have an orientation, city tour, day trip, and weekly meetups.

In addition to the partner projects, there will be many other planned activities throughout the program, all of which are optional and include:

  • Weekly Huarique meetups

    In Perú, Huarique is a term used for a local hangout or restaurant. Each week we will have a planned dinner meetup in which participants have a chance to try a new local flavor, and get to know other participants in the program. We’ll discuss our experiences from the week and invite guests from the community.

  • Cultural events

    VWI will plan sporadic cultural opportunities such as lectures from local community members (professors, government officials, etc.), or local events such as dance performances, music events, etc.

  • Day trips, partner site visits, and other networking events

10. What are your plans for the future? Are there any new exciting locations coming up?

Our San Miguel de Allende, Mexico location is launching in the summer of 2019, and we are also exploring U.S. locations!

Additionally, we have begun to partner with companies and organizations to plan shorter more customized retreats in our locations.

Use the code NATNZIN to get a discount when you book your next experience with Venture With Impact. 

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