Virtual Community Service Learning Opportunities

In our ongoing partnership with the University of Ottawa, Cuso International submitted two research projects for Summer 2017 International Development course e-volunteer internships. We are excited to highlight the project results from five of these amazing student e-volunteers.

Funding diversification for Red De Empresarias de Nicaragua (REN) was a project conceived and managed by our current in-country volunteer Flora Yameogo in Nicaragua. Flora has been working with REN since March 2017 as a Project Management Advisor. REN is an organization of women entrepreneurs formed in 2010 with the purpose of improving the entrepreneurship development of its 800 associates. REN has been a Cuso International partner since 2015 and has been supported by five international volunteers so far.

One of the key objectives of Flora’s placement was to locate donors to help REN diversity their sources of funding which to date had mainly originated from organizations based in the US.

As a Canadian volunteer, Flora was tasked with investigating more funders from Canada to determine if REN could apply. However, while conducting her research Flora discovered that the funding system is different from that of the US and had difficulties to finding private foundations. Flora contacted her Volunteer Mobilization Advisor (VMA) Catherine Fortin-Lauzier for support and the project requirements and timing worked to coincide with the University of Ottawa’s Summer 2017 Community Service Learning (CSL) program.

Flora collaborated online and managed the research efforts of five e-volunteer students Emilia Macera Deschênes, Hannah Vickars, Mélanie Thomas, Alexandra Irakoze, and Romaissa Mayssa Belhimeur. Their research focused on various funding sources for REN and they produced a presentation on the international aid system and Canadian international aid policies, a final report and funding sources database on additional funding sources.

Cuso International HQ welcomed them for a lunch and learn session where they had the opportunity to meet with staff and present their research process, findings, and how this e-volunteering opportunity impacted their international development studies. Flora and Country Program Office (CPO) staff in Nicaragua, Pilar Garcia and Christian Arroliga Escobar, attended via webinar.

Flora and REN used their research to add the new information to the donor mapping that was currently in progress and which led to further investigation to send a funding proposal. In addition to supporting REN, it is also available at the CPO in Nicaragua to aid future volunteers.

Figure 1. REN Empowering Women Workshop Participants and Facilitator Flora Yameogo (far right)
Figure 2. Flora celebrates her birthday with REN staff.
Figure 3 (left to right) Natalie Graham E-Volunteer Advisor and holding Romaissa Mayssa Belhimeur’s missing certificate, Emilia Macera Deschênes, Hannah Vickars, Mélanie Thomas, Alexandra Irakoze.