Volunteers

VEGA Member Volunteers

VEGA Member’s volunteer experts have backgrounds in food production, business development, banking and finance, and vocational education. They bring expertise from many industry sectors, including agriculture, finance, IT, climate change, tourism, trade, and youth and workforce development.

volunteers-slider-v003-01

Click on the image above to visit VEGA’s VolunteerImpact360.org

The Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance (VEGA) is a 501(c)3 organization that brings together its members to implement economic growth projects overseas. All of our members incorporate highly-skilled volunteers into most or all of their programs. VEGA Member organizations have implemented thousands of volunteer assignments in more than 140 countries over the past 50 years.

Leveraging volunteer skills and spirit is not a new activity for us. Volunteerism was the driving force of the creation of VEGA and its Member organizations, and it continues to be both a core value and unique asset.

First ChoiceDrawing on its network of over 100,000 volunteers, VEGA Members recruit, train, place and support skilled volunteers who provide management and technical assistance to micro, small- and medium-size enterprises, agribusinesses, financial institutions, educational institutions, NGOs, local governments, central ministries, advocacy organizations, associations, and communities – all who benefit from this highly effective form of foreign assistance and citizen diplomacy.

Click on the tabs to view profiles of a few of our volunteers.

HandleyHarold “Hal” Handley
Former Senior Vice President, McCormick & Company

Location: Cockeysville, MD

Career Summary: Hal has over 47 years of experience in food product sales, marketing and production. He has worked extensively in emerging economies around the world helping agribusinesses develop strategic plans, consulting on organization structure and evaluating product performance. 

Area(s) of Expertise: Food product sales, food marketing &production, dairy production, value chain systems 

Languages Spoken: English

ASSIGNMENT OVERVIEWIESC
Name of project: Facilitating Economic Growth Project (FEG)

Country: Sri Lanka

VEGA Lead Member: International Executive Service Corps (IESC)

Objective: To assist development of the Ceylon Cinnamon brand and support the cinnamon industry as a driver of economic growth in Sri Lanka.

Volunteer Assignment and Impact: Hal began his volunteer assignment by conducting exhaustive background research on the Sri Lankan cinnamon industry, which ultimately allowed him to hit the ground running upon arrival in Colombo (the commercial capital and largest city in Sri Lanka). He met with the Sri Lankan Ambassador and Commercial Minister at the Sri Lankan Embassy in Washington, D.C., to highlight the project, obtain additional insights, and engender high-level government support for the branding initiative.

Soon after arriving in Sri Lanka, during Hal’s in-country market assessment, he realized that the U.S. Food Safety Modernization Act, signed in to law in January 2011, would have significant ramifications for Sri Lankan cinnamon as the law imposes a number of requirements regarding inspections, record keeping, controls, registrations and certifications to be able to export food products to the U.S. Although outside the scope of his project, Hal began a campaign to inform the local stakeholders of this new regulation, of which none of them were aware at the time. In addition to meeting all required deliverables, including a comprehensive, world class strategic plan for branding Ceylon Cinnamon, Hal solicited and secured proposals from a number of prominent marketing and public relations firms who are interested in promoting Ceylon Cinnamon in the United States.

Even after the formal end of his project, Hal has continued to work remotely to promote marketing and brand development over the course of the last six months.

DSCN0288 copy 2Ahmed Awad
President/Owner, Product Development International, LLC

Location: Paramus, NJ

Career Summary: Ahmed has over 40 years of experience in food product development and quality assurance. He received his PhD in Food Science & Biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin before launching his career with companies that included Unilever, Domino Sugar Corporation, and Reckitt Benckiser, Inc. He has volunteered with IESC and other VEGA member organizations in Azerbaijan, Jordan, Kenya, Moldova, Tajikistan and Ukraine in addition to Morocco. 

Area(s) of Expertise: New product development, quality assurance, HACCP certification, marketing

Education: PhD, Food Science & Biochemistry, University of Wisconsin

Language(s) Spoken: English, Arabic

ASSIGNMENT OVERVIEW
Name of project: Engaging Venture Capital to Strengthen Agricultural Value Chains in Morocco

Country: MoroccoIESC

VEGA Lead Member: International Executive Service Corps (IESC)

Objective: The Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance (VEGA), in partnership with the Moroccan Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (AMIC), piloted a Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) small niche project that, for the first time, engaged venture capital (VC) firms in the fulfillment of F2F objectives. By developing a relationship with the 20 firms that are active in Morocco through AMIC, VEGA sought to broaden the scope and deepen the impact of agribusinesses positioned for investor funding through targeted volunteer technical assistance, coaching, and mentoring.

Volunteer Assignment and Impact: Sicopa, the company Ahmed worked with in Morocco, had a fairly advanced infrastructure but was in need of specialized advice. His assignment helped improve the productivity of Sicopa’s automated and manual production lines by providing an assessment of production techniques and developing an action plan for improvement in the production and storage of table olives.

GlynnHarry Glynn
Princeton in Asia Fellow

Location: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Career Summary: Harry was a Princeton in Asia Fellow when he volunteered to complete a one-year assignment with Land O’Lakes International Development. Princeton in Asia fosters mutual appreciation and cultural understanding by connecting service-minded graduates and partner organizations in Asia through immersive work experiences that transform perspectives and cultivate long-lasting friendships. Harry is pursuing his MBA at the University of British Columbia.

Area(s) of Expertise: Monitoring and evaluation, enterprise development, accounting/finance

Education: MBA (in progress), University of British Columbia

Language(s) Spoken: English

ASSIGNMENT OVERVIEWLOL
Name of project: VEGA/BIZ+

Country: Sri Lanka

VEGA Lead Member: Land O’Lakes International Development

Objective: To collect project data and enhance method of determining impacts among project grantees, mainly micro-enterprises and micro-entrepreneurs, in Sri Lanka.

Volunteer Assignment and Impact: Based out of Vavuniya in Northern Province, Harry worked as a Program Implementation Specialist on the VEGA/BIZ+ project, which is funded by USAID and implemented by the International Development Division of Land O’ Lakes, Inc. The goal of the project is to distribute grants to small- and medium-size enterprises in parts of Sri Lanka that have been most affected by conflict and the 2004 tsunami.

During his assignment, Harry routinely visited several project sites throughout the north and east side of the island, talking with grantees and learning how the project affected the local economic landscape. He led the design and development of the project’s approach to data collection for micro-enterprises and micro-entrepreneurs, and also played a key role in developing a grantee monitoring tool that tracks grantee activities and progress. In particular, Harry’s expertise played a critical role in establishing a viable way of calculating the project’s indirect job creation. To date, VEGA/BIZ+ has created 6,750 indirect jobs, which has exceeded the project target of 5,000, among highly vulnerable households, including women and the disabled.

JWangJennifer Wang
Marketing Associate, Education Elements

Location: San Francisco, CA

Career Summary: Jennifer Wang received her MBA with a focus on marketing and brand management from the UCLA Anderson School of Management in 2013 and volunteered with VEGA through VEGA Member PYXERA Global’s MBAs Without Borders program. She has experience in international program management and brand management through positions with ASSA ABLOY Hospitality, Hello Aloe, and Freddie’s To-Go.

Area(s) of Expertise: Marketing, market research, strategic planning, brand management, program management

Language(s) Spoken: English, French

Pyxera logo (1)ASSIGNMENT OVERVIEW
Name of project: Engaging Venture Capital to Strengthen Agricultural Value Chains in Morocco

Country: Morocco

VEGA Lead Member: PYXERA Global

Objective: The Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance (VEGA), in partnership with the Moroccan Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (AMIC), piloted a Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) small niche project that, for the first time, engaged venture capital (VC) firms in the fulfillment of F2F objectives. By developing a relationship with the 20 firms that are active in Morocco through AMIC, VEGA sought to broaden the scope and deepen the impact of agribusinesses positioned for investor funding through targeted volunteer technical assistance, coaching, and mentoring.

Volunteer Assignment and Impact: Jennifer helped Moroccan company Sicopa implement a customer relationship management system and conducted market research that would help the company reach new clients in the international arena. She received high praise from her manager at Sicopa as well as the venture capital partner overseeing her assignment as she brought a fresh perspective and energy to the office.

RonRon Schwartau
President, Western Mutual Fire Insurance Co.

Location: Balaton, MN                                   

Career Summary: Ron has more than 20 years of experience with electric cooperative administration and leadership. He has served as an NRECA Director since 2004 and is currently the NRECA International Foundation Board Chair as well as the President of Nobles Electric Cooperative.

Area(s) of Expertise: Board leadership and training, cooperative administration, mutual insurance, and grain and livestock farm operation

Language(s) Spoken: English

 

 

 

ASSIGNMENT OVERVIEW
Name of project: Philippines Peer to Peer Director Exchange

Country: The Philippines

VEGA Lead Member: NRECA International NRECAFoundation

Objective: To build capacity and transfer skills and relevant experience pertaining to board administration for electric utility cooperatives in partnership with the Philippines Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

Volunteer Assignment and Impact: Ron began his involvement with the International Foundation in 2004 and continues to actively engage with the Foundation as the board Chair. He recently traveled with two other NRECA International Foundation board members to Manila, Philippines to participate in a US-Philippines Electric Cooperative Director Peer to Peer Exchange. As volunteers, they engaged with Philippines Electric Cooperative board members in a series of round table discussions to cover issues of national importance to the electric cooperative community.

Electric cooperatives in the Philippines struggle with similar challenges that electric cooperative do in the US. During the peer to peer exchange, Ron and his fellow directors shared knowledge and experience with their Philippine counterparts on topics such as: Power Supply Planning, Aggregation, and Contracting, Organizational Strengthening, and Disaster Preparedness.

Ron has also previously volunteered in South Sudan and Guatemala and continues to actively advocate on behalf of the International Programs with NRECA.

JanJan Buresh
Independent Financial Services Professional

Location: Washington, DC

Career Summary: A volunteer for IESC, CNFA, FSVC and ACDI/VOCA for 9 years, Jan has 24 years of banking and risk jobs as well as farming and teaching experience. She also works as an independent consultant.

Area(s) of Expertise: Financial services, agribusiness, strategic planning

Education: MBA, Finance concentration, University of Colorado, Boulder

Language(s) Spoken: English

ASSIGNMENT OVERVIEW

Name of project: Lebanon Investment in Microfinance Program (LIM)

Country: LebanonFSVCIESC

VEGA Lead Member: International Executive Service Corps (IESC)

Other Vega Members: Financial Services Volunteer Corps (FSVC)

Objective: To help Lebanese micro and small enterprises increase sales, create jobs, and advance economic growth through improved access to finance.

Volunteer Assignment and Impact: Jan provided training and technical assistance to 44 Loan Officers and Area Supervisors at the microfinance institutions (MFIs) Almajmoua, ADR and Ameen’s offices in Beirut and Tyr in September 2009. In May 2014 she worked with the MFIs AEP and IBDAA.

The training met the USAID objective of creating more job openings, empowering women by increasing their access to microfinance and encouraging startups. Training topics were best practices for these loan types: Inventory, Startups, Equipment, Seasonal, and Group.  The targeted industry segments were tourism, agribusiness value chain, and ICT.

After each training, Jan provided feedback and suggestions to senior management of the three MFIs covering such topics as audit controls for growth and loan structures to match loan purposes and sources of repayment. In May 2014, she helped AEP construct a plan to report and manage problem loans and communicate with their Board. She also guided IBDAA’s team on a road map to build an agricultural loan product. They brainstormed and learned common problems of agri-loans and businesses.

melody-meyerMelody Meyer
Vice President of Policy and Industry Relations, United Natural Foods, Incorporated (UNFI)

Career Summary: Melody brings 30 years of experience as a buyer, distributor, and advocate for organic foods. She started her career in agriculture at the Iowa Natural Food Cooperative. She then built her own company, Source Organic, which linked organic producers to producers across the globe. She now serves as Vice President of Policy and Industry Relations for United Natural Foods, Incorporated (UNFI). She strongly advocates for organic agriculture through her blog, with Congress, and as a speaker at major international trade missions.

Area(s) of expertise: Agribusiness

Language(s) Spoken: English

 

 

 

ASSIGNMENT OVERVIEW

Project: Tunisia Small and Medium Enterprise Project

Country: TunisiaIESC

VEGA Lead Member: International Executive Services Corps (IESC)

Objective: Connect Tunisian producers with U.S. buyers and help the Tunisian government develop agricultural export strategies

Volunteer Assignment and Impact: In 2012, Melody signed up to serve as an IESC volunteer. In December, 2013, she left the U.S. to connect Tunisian producer with U.S. buyers, and to help the Tunisian government develop agricultural export strategies. Tunisia produces a variety of high quality foods, many of them organically, in particular dates and olives for olive oil and consumption in whole form. Tunisia’s ancient history in agriculture, combined with sophisticated farmers and farming practices give it an unmatched opportunity to supply the EU and markets farther afield.

The first component of Melody’s assignment was to assist program staff in preparing a buyer’s mission with American organics buyers to Tunisia. In the second component, she traveled with the buyers to Tunisia to meet organic agriculture producers. She also met with Tunisian government ministries to develop trade promotion strategies for the Tunisian organics market. Finally, after returning from Tunisia, Melody provided program staff feedback and advised on follow-up activities to the buyer’s mission.

Melody designed sustainable application process, itinerary, and feedback scorecard that the Tunisian government can replicate for future events. Further, she was instrumental in soliciting applications from buyer that had never sourced from Tunisia and would never have look at Tunisia as an organics source prior to this outreach. As a result, four U.S. buyers traveled with her to Tunisia from December 7-13, 2013. Collective they represented a purchasing volume of $150 million annually. The mission itinerary included field visits; a Business-to-Business event; and touristic visits.

robertRobert Alexandriysky

Location: Bulgaria

Career Summary: Robert is the co-founder and former President of the Association of Fashion and Textile Designers in Bulgaria, his home country. He has worked as managing director of the global apparel marketing and advisory firm R.A.G.S., and taught in the Fashion Marketing & Management and Fashion Design Departments at the Raffles Design Institute in China.

Area(s) of expertise: Textiles, marketing, export promotion, agribusiness

Education: Master’s degree, Economics, Institute of Economics, Svishtov, Bulgaria

Language(s) Spoken: English, Bulgarian, Russian, Portuguese, Macedonian

 

 

ASSIGNMENT OVERVIEW

Project: Tunisia Small and Medium Enterprise Project

Country: TunisiaIESC

VEGA Lead Member: International Executive Services Corps (IESC)

Objective: Strengthen economic competitiveness and prospects for sustained growth through greater involvement of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in trade and investment related activities.

Volunteer Assignment and Impact: As part of a program providing technical assistance to export-ready and near export-ready firms in selected sectors in Tunisia, IESC recruited Robert as a volunteer expert to help small and medium textile and clothing enterprises enter European markets. Tunisia’s textile and garment sector faces significant challenges. It has shed 100,000 jobs since 2011 – a result of investors wary of post-revolutionary instability, the global economic downturn and competition.

Before arriving in Tunisia, Robert completed a detailed study of European clothing and textile market regulations, standards and trends. During his initial assignment in spring of 2013, he evaluated, advised and crafted export plans for 20 enterprises and provided technical training to a larger group of textile and clothing firms, government officials and consultants. Returning home has not stopped him from supporting and advising the firms regularly and virtually, even ones whose small production volume makes finding buyers more difficult.

In the fall of 2013, IESC asked Robert to return to assist firms participating in the TexMed Trade Show, the international textile and clothing exhibition that takes place annually in Tunis. He recruited another volunteer to accompany him, Ms. Margitta Wasmann, a German textile design expert. Together they advised enterprises on German market conditions and planning a trade mission to Germany to help Tunisian enterprises develop ties with German firms. Robert identified places to visit, arranged meetings and logistics and accompanied the group as an advisor.

 

The firms invested significant time, money and effort to implement Robert’s suggestions, and the results have been significant, with 50% of participants hiring new employees scarcely a year after the project began.

Mr. Walid Sahraoui, chief manager of Tanit Textile, who participated in all of Robert’s activities, reported that his company had high-quality production and on-time delivery, but he had not really considered his company’s potential until meeting with Robert’s. By participating in the technical trainings, on-site assessments, and remote coaching with Robert, Mr. Sahraoui was able to developed his company in a number of ways that not only increased his export production, but Tanit Textile’s ability to create market linkages internationally.

From 2013 to 2014, Tanit Textile increased its exports from $1.2 million to $3.8 million due, in part, to Robert’s coaching. “We brainstormed with Robert. He advised me to build a showroom, improve the website, and he coached me regularly. Robert pushed me. I needed a coach.” Mr. Sahraoui and the staff at Tanit Textile were able to increase orders from already existing business partners because of their improved quality, delivery time, and professional development as a company. Robert encouraged the Tunisian SMEs to become more integrated, make patterns in-house, and other business models that are attractive to international textile and garment buyers.

Take away messages/quotes: “It is always rewarding when you bring your experience to other people and see it make a difference.”—Robert Alexandriysky

paulPaul Myers
Former President and CEO, Ten Thousand Villages

Career Summary: From 1989 to 2006, Paul was CEO of Ten Thousand Villages, one of the largest and oldest Fair Trade retail networks, spanning the USA and Canada. In 2007, he was elected President of the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO).

Area(s) of Expertise: Fair trade, handicrafts, sustainable production, social impact investment

Language(s) Spoken: English

 

ASSIGNMENT OVERVIEW
Name of project: Facilitating Economic Growth Project (FEG)

Country: Sri LankaIESC

VEGA Lead Member: International Executive Service Corps (IESC)

Objective: To work with the Sri Lankan Export Development Board and nine handicraft companies to provide guidance on achieving international fair trade certification.

Volunteer Assignment and Impact: Paul volunteered for one in a series of projects to assist the Sri Lankan Export Development Board (EDB) increase fair trade certification for Sri Lankan businesses.  The EDB estimates fair trade certification could increase incomes of handicraft producers by 35 percent and could impact 15,000 households nationwide, while also strengthening exports and bringing attention to Sri Lanka’s diverse craft traditions.

Drawing on his experience in fair trade and as a CEO, Paul advised nine Sri Lankan companies in achieving fair trade certification, including advice on design, marketing and business management.  While in country, he helped the businesses complete their applications for fair trade certification from the WFTO, and advised on additional steps needed to be certified. Paul also advised the EDB on how it could offer new services to assist handicraft producers in order to lower the barriers to achieving fair craft certification, which would result in reducing the cost of the application by a third.  Paul’s volunteer assignment did not end when he departed Sri Lanka, as he briefed the WFTO on the handicrafts in Sri Lanka and continued to advise the EDB remotely.

“I was there to observe, listen, and ask a few questions because I was getting inside these companies.” He did not immediately offer suggestions for improvement, but waited until the businesses asked. By developing rapport and credibility with his local clients, they were more likely to listen to what he had to say. “It wouldn’t have worked as well if the process was reversed,” Myers notes.

“There are brilliant, creative visionaries here who could easily work for someone else making lots of money,” Myers said. “But to feel, see, and observe a number of social entrepreneurs doing meaningful work: that was inspirational.”

lucretiaLucretia Freeman-Buster
Vice President, Commercial Lending at The Washington Savings Bank

Location: Bowie, MD

Career Summary: Lucretia has over 20 years of experience as a commercial banking professional.

Area(s) of Expertise: Commercial banking, agricultural lending, credit risk

Education: MBA, Global Business & Management, University of Maryland University College

Language(s) Spoken: English

ASSIGNMENT OVERVIEW
Name of project: Investing in Business Expansion (IBEX)

Country: LiberiaIESC

VEGA Lead Member: International Executive Service Corps (IESC)

Objective: To assist bankers and small and medium-sized enterprises to facilitate increased lending to businesses in the agriculture and renewable energy sectors.

Volunteer Assignment and Impact: Unemployment in Liberia is at around 90 percent. Small and medium businesses have the potential to grow the economy and provide jobs, but businesses need capital to expand. IBEX focuses on improving Liberia’s lending environment in seven sectors: agriculture, renewable energy, infrastructure, construction, general merchandise, transportation, and hospitality. The program works with banks to improve risk management and reduce the cost associated with lending in these sectors. Coupled with technical assistance to partner banks and borrowers, these activities encourage lending to small and medium enterprises in Liberia.

An expert in commercial banking and credit risk, Lucretia led training sessions for Liberian businesses, non-bank financial institutions, and technical assistance providers. The goal of her volunteer assignment was to increase the capacity of these groups so that they could function independently and effectively after the conclusion of the IBEX program. Specifically, Lucretia trained them on improved loan packaging and financial management and   facilitated a refresher course for the partner banks in credit analysis, loan review, cash flow lending, risk and financial management, and portfolio management. She took a “train the trainers” approach so that the knowledge could be shared more broadly. Finally, she assisted in the development of the road map for a National Business Development Center. Lucretia trained about 100 people across the three groups.

Lucretia became involved with IBEX through her engagement as a member of the Liberian diaspora.

kateKate Weber
Communications Advisor, U.S. Global Development Lab

Career Summary: Shortly after her volunteer assignment through VEGA, Kate obtained senior positions in the United States Agency for International Development. She served in USAID/Russia and USAID/Sri Lanka and the Maldives before becoming the Deputy Director of the Office of Pakistan Affairs and then Senior Advisor in the new U.S. Global Development Lab.

Area (s) of Expertise: Program management, capacity development, public relations, economic and political development

Education: Master’s degree, International Affairs major, Economic and Political Development concentration, Columbia University

Language(s) Spoken: English, Russian

 

ASSIGNMENT OVERVIEW

Name of project: Emerging Markets Development Advisers Program (EMDAP)

Country: Jordan

VEGA Lead Member: Institute of International Education (IIE)IIE

Objective: The Emerging Markets Development Advisers Program (EMDAP) targeted assistance supports USAID’s strategy of building local capacity through innovative and sustainable assistance by transferring knowledge to local organizations and individuals.

Volunteer Assignment and Impact: Kate, a graduate from Columbia University, worked as the Marketing and Business Development Officer at the Jordan Garments, Accessories and Textiles Exporters’ Association (JGATE). JGATE is a non-profit, private sector initiative established to drive industry growth that aims to serve as the focal point for all activities related to the garment sector, thereby providing leadership and support to principal industry stakeholders and supporting partners.

Due to the success of Barbara Woodard in 2005-06, Kate was brought in to add value and was tasked with developing the JGATE website into a significant revenue generator and communications tool, enhancing the value of JGATE’s brand among its membership base by increasing awareness of JGATE activities and events through PR, marketing and other promotional activities, and developing strategic marketing plans for all JGATE activities and events, as well as to promote the local garment sector to international markets.

Kate’s primary responsibilities consisted of the following tasks:

  1. Manage the public relations program to raise awareness, establish credibility, and gain greater visibility among press, analysts, partners, members and prospects. Activities to manage included press releases, press interviews, speaking engagements, publicity and other outbound communication activities. Develop and manage a quarterly newsletter and/or sector publication to promote JGATE as the sector representative and distribute relevant information to members and contacts; and
  2. Manage marketing activities to enhance its membership base – the development of marketing materials and the overall implementation of JGATE’s marketing plan.

Accomplishments

  • Created an action plan for the website.
  • Designed and conducted an events survey for JGATE members;
  • Created a results Excel spreadsheet master template to present to the Board of Directors, as well as a PowerPoint with the results;
  • Wrote several position papers and industry advocacy documents; and
  • Served as the point person at JGATE for organizing various Jordanian delegations attending international trade shows.

robert hRobert Haynie
Senior Vice President, Fleishman Hillard

Location: Washington, DC

Career Summary: After completing his EMDAP assignment through VEGA, Robert went on to work at DAI and Deloitte before serving as a Senior Advisor in the U.S. Department of State and Senior Vice President at Fleishman Hillard.

Area (s) of Expertise: Public/private partnerships, strategy, foreign policy

Education: MBA, Development Economics and International Development, Georgetown University

Language(s) Spoken: English

 

 

 

ASSIGNMENT OVERVIEW

Name of project: Emerging Markets Development Advisers Program (EMDAP)

Country: JordanIIE

VEGA Lead Member: Institute of International Education (IIE)

Objective: The Emerging Markets Development Advisers Program (EMDAP) targeted assistance supports USAID’s strategy of building local capacity through innovative and sustainable assistance by transferring knowledge to local organizations and individuals.

Volunteer Assignment and Impact: Robert, a graduate from Georgetown University, worked as a Trade Development & Linkages Specialist for the Business Development Center (BDC). BDC is an independent Jordanian not-for-profit development and management service provider specializing in specific developmental problems and needs. Their mission is to increase the competitiveness and market outreach of Jordanian private sector enterprises. He was tasked with assisting in building business linkages by contributing to activities needed to create market awareness, and build BDC’s image locally and abroad.

Robert’s primary responsibilities consisted of the following tasks:

  1. Develop capabilities for supporting client activities related to trade and exporting, including liaisons with service providers or agencies that provide insurance, banking, finance, and logistics.
  2. Provide expertise for assisting all program activities in trade, export development, marketing, and financial networking.
  3. Pursue research for U.S. and other international markets for export-oriented Jordanian companies, and assist in establishing linkages to those markets.
  4. Assist with Scopes of Work for consultants engaged in export activities under client service contracts.
  5. Establish training initiatives that create export capabilities for BDSC staff managers and appropriate client companies.
  6. Ensure viable network linkages, with U.S. donor organizations, U.S. NGOs, educational institutions, and U.S Volunteer databases benefiting its core activities.
  7. Supervise the implementation of training and conference activities.

Accomplishments

  • Developed a document to map out other projects and recommended that the CEO require all employees to use the same format for each of their projects.
  • Created the BDC budget for the annual regional 2006 BDS conference by working with vendors to estimate costs.
  • Developed a conference flyer and layout content to be implemented organization wide.

Robert managed to parlay negative events in Jordan into an innovative and ground breaking new case study.  Entitled “Tourism in a Terrorist World: Jordan’s 9-11 and the Amman Marriott Hotel,” his case examined a dilemma currently facing hotels in Jordan: how to increase customers in the midst of the post-bombing decline. He developed it in cooperation with the General Manager of the Marriott Amman Hotel and senior officials based in the Marriott Corporation’s Bethesda, Maryland headquarters.

The case highlights the company’s worldwide approach to security management. Events on the ground in Amman actually hastened the local implementation of worldwide security standards. Marriott immediately recognized the practical value of the case and incorporated it into its worldwide general manager training in San Francisco in February 2007.

Take away message/quote: “Having the chance to live in Jordan during such a critical time and being able to document the changes due to terrorism in my case study was a phenomenal opportunity, and I hope many other companies leverage these best practices when facing the threat of terrorism.” – Robert Haynie

autmnAutumn Gorman
Financial Sector Specialist, USAID

Location: Washington, DC

Career Summary: Autumn has more than 10 years of experience throughout the business ecosystem–entrepreneurship, value chains, inclusive market systems/ making markets work for the poor (M4P), finance, small-medium enterprises (SMEs), incubators, inclusive business, creating shared value/ corporate social responsibility (CSR), partnerships, investment, policy, education, capacity building, strategy, operations, marketing, communications, monitoring, evaluations (M&E), diaspora engagement, and gender.

Area (s) of Expertise: Microenterprise, financial services, strategic planning

Education: MBA and MA in International and Intercultural Communication, University of Denver

Language(s) Spoken: English, Spanish, Arabic

ASSIGNMENT OVERVIEW

Name of project: Emerging Markets Development Advisers Program (EMDAP)

Country: JordanIIE

VEGA Lead Member: Institute of International Education (IIE)

Objective: The Emerging Markets Development Advisers Program (EMDAP) targeted assistance supports USAID’s strategy of building local capacity through innovative and sustainable assistance by transferring knowledge to local organizations and individuals.

Volunteer Assignment and Impact: Autumn, a graduate from the University of Denver, worked as an Advisor with the El Hassan Business Park for Projects Development (EHBP). EHBP is a not-for-profit company that supports and incubates start-up companies and researchers in the ICT and Clean Technology sector in Jordan. EHBP’s goal is to create a vibrant innovation ecosystem in Jordan that links academia, research, government and private enterprise to create economic and social value.

Autumn assisted the Business Park management team in training and mentoring startup companies, helping develop sound business plans, evaluating the investment readiness of companies, helping investors conduct initial due diligence, and developing new programs that helped further develop the innovation ecosystem in Jordan.

Her primary responsibilities consisted of the following tasks:

  1. Help develop sustainable new programs.
  2. Connect the organization with other international organizations.
  3. Learn more about Jordan and be an advocate in the US.
  4. Evaluate new ideas and business plans.
  5. Help refine and develop solid business plan.
  6. Mentor and train startup companies.
  7. Conduct market research.

Accomplishments

  • Wrote a comprehensive literature review based on extensive research, including analyses of other diaspora projects (successes, failures, sustainability, structure, activities, etc.) around the world.
  • Reviewed USAID Jordan Competitiveness Program RFP and drafted proposal to be submitted when contract was awarded.
  • Wrote 2 articles for publication:
    1. For a business magazine, as part of a project on innovation in Jordan with Columbia University and the World Bank.
    2. For a business incubator practitioner’s journal.
  • Drafted a basic business plan.
  • Conducted a survey of entrepreneurship education in North American and Europe, with a particular focus on graduate programs; drafted a report of results.
  • Served on curriculum development committee.
  • Wrote course description: “Sustainability, corporate social responsibility and social entrepreneurship” for a university class at the Princess Sumaya University for Technology (a well-respected, private higher-education institution in the MENA region).
  • Created a pedagogy guide to assist professors develop the necessary new skills and competencies in their students.
  • Drafted a branding and communications strategy for EHBP.
  • Completed a website map and its content.
  • Created an internal website to facilitate internal communications and information sharing and wrote guides for event planning, social media, and writing press releases.
  • Reviewed marketing and public relations materials for two nation-wide entrepreneurship competitions.
  • Provided entrepreneurship training to at least 25 start-up companies, including six women and three of the five finalists for the CleanTech Open competition (including the winner).
  • Facilitated the evolution of Start.Alliance, an informal association of organizations working in entrepreneurship in Jordan.
  • Interviewed more than 20 angel investors, Jordanian expatriates, successful entrepreneurs and leaders in the field of entrepreneurship in Jordan – both formally and informally to develop knowledge of Jordan’s entrepreneurship ecosystem.

gabrielaGabriela Prudencio
MBA Candidate, McDonough School of Business, Georgetown University

Location: Washington, DC

Career Summary: After completing her volunteer assignment through VEGA, Gabriel worked at Mercy Corps for three years before beginning her MBA program.

Area(s) of Expertise: Capacity building, value chain analysis, proposal development

Education: MA, International Commerce and Policy, George Mason University

Language(s) Spoken: English, Spanish

 

 

 

ASSIGNMENT OVERVIEW

Name of project: Emerging Markets Development Advisers Program (EMDAP)

Country: Jordan

VEGA Lead Member: Institute of International Education (IIE)IIE

Objective: The Emerging Markets Development Advisers Program (EMDAP) targeted assistance supports USAID’s strategy of building local capacity through innovative and sustainable assistance by transferring knowledge to local organizations and individuals.

Volunteer Assignment and Impact: Gabriela,a graduate from George Mason University, worked as the Technical Advisor at the Jordanian Olive Products Exporters Associations (JOPEA). JOPEA is a non-profit organization established to support the olive products various sectors. JOPEA hopes to achieve its vision on the basis of credibility, sustainability and being an effective association serving its members, olive products sector and the Jordanian economy.

JOPEA selected Gabriela to continue the work that Courtney Singh started in 2005-06.  Gabriela helped support the development, operation, and management of JOPEA’s services and goals and opportunities for revenue growth, and maintained program schedules.

Her primary responsibilities consisted of the following tasks:

a)     Identify and execute human resources and training programs needed.
b)     Expand JOPEA’s membership base.
c)      Strategically plan and develop revenue based activities.
d)     Provide project management across various programs.
e)     Plan and pursue fund raising programs from donor agencies.

Accomplishments

  • Completed a sector-wide SWOT analysis, and surveyed all JOPEA members to evaluate the quality of services that they provided.
  • Assisted in introducing four new JOPEA services including: (1) assessment trainings for JOPEA members, (2) researched non-traditional markets for future expansion, (3) developed mechanisms to record member needs, and (4) developed an industry analysis survey.
  • Wrote funding proposal to USAID-funded TATWEER project to support approximately eight companies for organic certification, and followed up with service providers to estimate certification costs.
  • Prepared application and procedure guidelines for Fair Wage Certification standards to confirm that JOPEA producers have undergone an audit process ensuring that the laborers in all stages of their product’s production were paid at least the minimum wage in the country of production.
  • Helped promote better farming practices through a pruning workshop organized with the Ministry of Agriculture.

VEGA Member Volunteers:

  • Are expert practitioners with unique sets of skills and experience;
  • Build lasting relationships with their in-country counterparts;
  • Provide capacity building far beyond the original scope of their assignments;
  • Have over 15 years of experience in his or her field. Two-thirds or more have a graduate degree in their profession.

Typical VEGA Member Volunteer Assignments:

  • Executive Level (1 week: Bankers, Senior Executives and Senior Lawyers)
  • Senior Level, most common (2-3 weeks: City/County Managers, University Professors, Agribusiness Managers, Cooperative Managers, Trade / Marketing / IT specialists)
  • Mid-Career (1-2 years: Recent graduates from MBA and master’s degree programs, typically with five years of experience)
  • There is a growing demand for “virtual volunteers” who can provide expert assistance to local entrepreneurs and business ventures (e-mentoring) via email, SMS, Skype and other means

Qualities of a VEGA Member Volunteer:

  • Expertise: VEGA volunteers are professionals in the fields in which they are providing technical training, enabling them to achieve instant rapport with their clients;
  • Commitment: VEGA volunteers frequently remain in contact with their host country clients long after individual assignments are completed and continue to conduct support activities in the U.S.;
  • Flexibility: Experienced volunteers can be deployed quickly to respond to urgent client needs; and
  • Experience: VEGA optimizes program impact by utilizing both the experience of repeat volunteers and the fresh up-to-date knowledge of qualified first-timers.