Review of ENVenture by Mark Kelleher

on 08/06/2017

A challenging, rewarding and inspiring experience

I spent 3 months in Western Uganda working as an ENVenture Business Development Fellow, and I can honestly say that it has been one of the best professional experiences of my life so far.

I was placed with an established CBO (Community-Based Organisation) that had a history of social impact, environmental stewardship and promotion of clean energy alternatives. My role at the CBO was to take their organisation's experience, their skills and talents, and assist them with the creation of a new profit-making commercial venture, selling clean energy goods in a rural, largely off-grid environment.

To be clear, we created an entrepreneurial business based on profit incentives, but the founding principles of this company were deeply rooted in the local community, in ensuring that the products for sale offered efficiency-savings for the users, adhered to strict environmental standards and outperformed established, 'dirty' alternatives.

To be sure, not everything about this volunteering experience was easy. In addition to needing experience and knowledge of the clean-energy and energy access sectors, candidates need to be business-minded, and either come in to the project with a degree in business, or ideally, experience working in start-ups and/or small businesses. What is really needed is flexibility, motivation and maneuverability as you will face many challenges, diverse contexts and need to think on your feet and have a quick, problem-solving approach to your duties.

But if this does sound like you, what you will gain from the experience is three months in which you will co-manage your own project, establish a new ethical business in a young and fast-moving industry, have a set of concrete and sustainable deliverables and a set of fantastic, long-term working and social relationships with your CBO, with the other fellows on your project and within the industry.

As I said at the top of this review, taking part in the ENVenture Business Development Fellowship has been an incredible rewarding experience. If you enjoy a challenge, if you want to grow your skills and if you want to make a positive difference then apply!