Executive Volunteers

WR received an interesting press release this morning from Projects Abroad who arrange volunteering experiences.  They're saying a lot of the people suffering in the economic climate are escaping their career problems at home by going away to do some voluntary work somewhere else.  There’s something very right about the idea of Sir Fred Goodwin helping out on one of the projects on our volunteering pages…. And I think the people who damaged his property might feel happy about that scenario as well…

Here's the beginning of the release:

Recession-worn British small business directors and entrepreneurs are increasingly abandoning Britain to join ‘Enterprise gap year’ schemes in developing countries. More than half of the 60% increase in older volunteers leaving on gap-years in developing countries are British small business directors and entrepreneurs, according to Projects Abroad, the world’s leading commercial volunteer service organisation.  

Over 500,000 small businesses having ceased trading since the credit crunch began with over 50 businesses per day collapsing, leading to the increased interest in gap year programmes. ”As a result of the economic crisis, we have picked up significant numbers of people from the small business sector and entrepreneurs opting for gap years,” says Dr. Peter Slowe, Founder of Projects Abroad.  “Rather than ‘Career Breakers’ as we used to call them, this group are ‘Career Escapers’.”  They are getting involved in ready-made enterprise schemes ranging from an organic farm in India, a football academy in Ghana, an IT company in Sri Lanka and a web-design company in Mexico.  Some are going for one month, in some cases 1 year, even 18 months in countries as far flung as Peru, Mongolia, China and Bolivia.

The other half of the jump in older volunteers are redundant professionals using their final pay-cheques from the finance, telecommunications or media sectors to fund their trips.  The overall increase in volunteers, including school leavers, is 11% year-on-year. Instead of traditional ‘straight aid’ volunteering, entrepreneurs and small business directors are largely opting for ‘Enterprise’ slanted gap years. The volunteering industry for some time has been moving away from ‘straight aid’ schemes towards ‘Constructive’ volunteering.  “Enterprise volunteering is the evolution of that general trend,” according to Dr. Slowe.  Others are choosing Conservation and Environment projects, Human Rights, Law and even English as a Second Language.  These projects are being assisted by practical on-the-ground support by British businesspeople in terms of marketing, seed finance, accounting, and distribution.


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