Volunteering With Purpose: Sharing Expertise

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CESO’s greatest asset is our volunteers, who have on average 25 years of senior-level experience in their respective professional fields. Since 1967 our VAs have completed over 47,500 assignments across Canada and in more than 120 countries.

Our Volunteer Advisors (VAs) help build sustainable economic and social health in communities in Canada and abroad. We are unique among volunteer-sending organizations in that we focus on economic development and the transfer of skills and knowledge in a local community context, delivered by our highly experienced VAs. VAs share their wealth of knowledge and expertise in an advisory and mentorship capacity, collaborating closely with clients from planning through to the completion of a project.

These VAs work with clients in short-term, strategic assignments, making sure results are locally driven and sustainable in the long term. The short-term assignments themselves often fall within a larger partnership – such as a chamber of commerce, trade association, or government ministry. By working at both the partnership and client level, we can expand our reach through their networks, in many cases, extending our impact to the level of the entire sector.

Real World Impact
Starting in 2006, CESO VAs have worked in In Burkina Faso in partnership with MUFEDE (Mutualité Femmes et Développement du Burkina), an organization that offers men and women a variety of services including credit and savings, training in credit management, literacy courses, and income-generation strategies.

Focusing on credit management policies, human resource management, financial product development and website development, the support CESO provides enables MUFEDE’s management to train their staff in the most current best practices to ensure its continued reputation of success and viability within the communities.

One of MUFEDE’s clients, Georgette Minoungou, began as a street vendor in Ouagadougou selling fruit from a basket perched on her head to passersby. With the credit and training available through MUFEDE she has now expanded her business to three locations, with several women employed selling fresh fruit and vegetables, and has a stable business as a supplier. She has built houses for herself and her family in their village, and has been able to pay the school fees for her three children, who will follow her example.

Our work in Canada, meanwhile, is primarily focused in the areas of economic development, governance and health management with First Nations and Inuit communities. Through our long-term partnership with the Government of Nunavut, we provide Volunteer Advisors for on-site and off-site individual and team mentorship, peer support and coaching, workshops and other training and development initiatives. Since 2001, more than 150 short-term and multi-year assignments have been completed in Nunavut.

One of our clients of this program, Christine Bens, started at the Government of Nunavut as an intern and worked her way up to Director of Corporate Services. Throughout this time, various CESO Volunteer Advisors have mentored her in her roles and prepared her for positions in management.

“My CESO mentors have made a huge impact in my life…They took their own time to teach me, and they’ve been so supportive. From them, I’ve learned to mentor my own team [of staff]. They are the biggest reason I am where I am today” says Christine.

Your Skills Could Make a Difference
Volunteering changes lives. If you have more than 10 years in a specific industry or in the public sector and are looking for a meaningful way to share those skills, considering becoming a Volunteer Advisor. Contact us today to find out how you can make a difference at [email protected] or at www.ceso-saco.com.