CDC draws upon a broad resource base that includes volunteer advisors, MBA Corps members, professional consultants, exceptional headquarters and field staffs and in-country partner organizations. From this wealth of knowledge and talent, customized solutions are created to render individual companies, vertical business sectors and entire economies more competitive. We can meet specific needs for short-term, mid-term, or long-term interventions.
CDC has access to a vast network of more than 7,000 expert volunteer advisors (VAs)В representing businesses of all sizes and sectors as well as local and regional governments. Hailing from every industry and skill set, these mid-career practitioners are not only witnesses to, but instigators of the latest cutting edge business practices. Our VAs provide pivotal momentum for large-scale projects, and many come to complete repeated short-term assignments in a specific geographic area. Their commitment is further evidenced by the fact that the majority of CDC volunteers continue to assist clients for years after the on-site portion of an assignment is completed. They take their role seriously, not only as business counselors, but also as goodwill ambassadors.
- Real-world, hands-on experience of a practitioner in contrast to the formula-driven methodology of a consultant.
- Unique dedication of individuals giving their time and expertise without any financial incentive because they believe in the work they are doing.
- Access to individuals who, for whatever reason, cannot be paid consultants due to their employment, previous limitations or restrictions.
- Continued relationships with clients long after the term of assignment has been completed.
Advantages of Volunteer Advisors in Programs
Commitment. Individuals seek and accept assignments as volunteers, not for monetary compensation, but from a personal commitment to share their expertise, to help construct market-based and democratic societies, and to gain a meaningful experience. This commitment leads VAs to view the assignment, not as a nine-to-five job, but as an opportunity to be truly involved with the client well beyond the normal job responsibility and to undertake other tasks while in-country. That depth of involvement frequently produces a lasting personal and professional relationship, with the volunteer returning for follow-up assignments with the client and assisting the client after returning to the United States.
Cost Effective. Minimal costs allow volunteer business programs to be particularly cost effective. Costs normally are limited to: (1) travel; (2) support staff to identify appropriate VAs for a particular assignment; and (3) per diem. Clients contribute services such as transportation, housing, and interpretation. CDC VAs provide a cost-effective alternative to consultants. For a fraction of the daily rate that CDCвЂ™s VAs would command, the client receives world class technical assistance.
Impact. In a climate of declining resources from donors, and recipients increasingly questioning both the cost of assistance and the value of high-cost, short-term consultancies, volunteer programs offer a cost effective form of technical assistance that places real-world experts alongside business managers to help them solve problems, build companies, and be prepared to take advantage of opportunities. VAs are not merely observers or analysts, but also on-site managers and doers.
Practical Experience. VAs bring years of practical business experience to real business problems and opportunities that often cannot be matched by other experts and range from those in the early phase of their career to retired executives.
Specialized Expertise. VAs offer specific skills and experience which may not be available from paid consultants. For instance, CDC can access local government officials, business leaders or even legislators who could not receive fees for their work due to conflict of interest or other legal and ethical issues.
Long-term. Volunteer programs offer long-term support which is not readily affordable from for-profit services. The personal commitment and interest of VAs frequently sustains their interest in a client. The continuity of the volunteer organization allows it to offer follow-on assignments and a continuing institutional relationship
Bridge Building. VAs help build long-term commercial bridges (partners, buyers, suppliers) between their client and enterprises both within the country and region and with U.S. firms, often long after the assignment has been completed.
Sustainability. Volunteer programs strengthen individual enterprises and intermediary institutions and thereby contribute to the sustainability of economic growth and development. Some also remain to establish new business activities or work in local or foreign-owned enterprises. They often become involved in community activities.
Institution Building. Business volunteer programs work to strengthen business support institutions in order to create the long-term support mechanisms necessary to a viable private sector.
Flexibility. Volunteer programs are flexible and adaptive to specific needs and situations.
U.S. Trade & Investment. Assignments by U.S. business VAs frequently are followed by procurement and other business arrangements with U.S. firms. VAs have the experience and develop relationships which build markets and other trade and investment opportunities for U.S. companies.
Collaboration. Volunteer organizations have a high willingness to cooperate with other organizations and governmental entities and to work with business in a non-proprietary way.