Do you have a skill set you’d like to lend to a worthwhile endeavor overseas, but you’re not sure how to make that connection happen? Then tap into Venture with Impact (VWI), a “workation” program that takes working professionals to cities abroad and matches them with pro bono projects that align with their talents.

The Wisconsin-based startup was founded by entrepreneur Ann Davis in 2016 and is part of Gener8tor’s gBETA program. It sets up accommodations, workspace and volunteer experiences for professionals who will live and travel in a country for one month or longer. The idea is to expose professionals to different cultures, people and ideas so they can be more empathetic world citizens, all while creating a positive social impact.

“I have always had a passion for traveling and volunteering. However, I know that fulfilling these passions while maintaining a full-time professional career is very difficult,” Davis said. “This dilemma led to the idea for Venture with Impact.”

The startup taps into the growing trend of digital nomadism, or traveling the world while working remotely. Professionals are eager to have adventures abroad while participating in humanitarian endeavors, but they also want to maintain their careers. VWI works to support digital nomads by offering personalized opportunities to connect beyond work and give back to a local community through pro bono projects, Davis says.

Beyond connecting participants with volunteer partners that fit with their interests and schedules, VWI plans cultural activities and weekend trips that allow participants to dig deep into the local culture and create bonds with their fellow “Venture Nomads.”

VWI launched a hub in Trujillo, Perú, in January 2017, and recently expanded to Medellín, Colombia, Chiang Mai, Thailand, and Lisbon, Portugal. Currently, the program hosts a range of participants in terms of profession, nationality and experience, with participants’ ages, ranging from early 20s to 70-something. Professions have included software designers, entrepreneurs, nonprofit directors, teachers, engineers, doctors and writers.

While abroad, VWI participants engage in a variety of activities, many of which are optional and individually tailored. In addition to volunteering for the partner project, a week during the program might include:

  • Weekly huarique meetups: In Perú, huarique is a term used for a local hangout or restaurant. Each week’s schedule includes a planned dinner meetup where participants have a chance to try local cuisine and get to know each other.
  • Cultural events: VWI coordinates occasional cultural outings, such as lectures from local community members or local events such as dance performances or concerts.
  • Partner site visits: Visits to various partner sites add to each participant’s pro bono project experience, providing the opportunity to view the work of previous participants.
  • Self-organized events: Participants are encouraged to organize additional activities and clubs, such as running groups, yoga meetups, photography workshops or book clubs.

Following the successful launch of its projects in Perú, Colombia, Thailand and Portugal, VWI continues to expand and is adding an additional program in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, in 2019. The program is currently accepting applications for new Venture Nomads.

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