Maybe you’ve stumbled across it on Escape the City, perhaps you’ve watched in envy as a colleague exited the workplace, fist in the air like Bender at the end of The Breakfast Club. Your news feed might be filled up with happy-snaps of your best friend in some exotic location, surrounded by a bunch of new and cool looking friends. Whatever has lead you to Social Starters, I’m here to tell you not to turn back around, instead – take a deep breath and leap into the unknown (just like I did).
Social Starters is the new kid on the social enterprise block, boldly leading the way with their unique type of volunteering experience, a super-hybrid of travelling + learning + business + giving. They have very cleverly found a way to connect skilled volunteers with budding and grassroots entrepreneurs from all over the globe.
They offer their own bespoke Business Bootcamp training, where they arm you with every tool you need to become a confident and boundary-breaking Social Enterprise Consultant. Once you’re prepped and adequately fired up to share your new found skills, they pair you with a local person or group who are running their own social enterprise/business. This is where the real adventure begins!
When asked to describe how I felt about the people (organisers and volunteers) participating in Social Starters, I said “It’s like being in a room with a bunch of really cool, young Oprah Winfreys. These people are going to change the world. I almost can’t believe how lucky I am to be part of this.”
I walked away from boot camp with my head overflowing with new ideas and inspiration. Don’t worry if you’re not confident and knowledgable in business/finance/social enterprise – I can guarantee that you’ll walk out feeling like a pro. Social Starters have tapped into an emerging business world, and it’s exciting to learn about the incredibly innovative ways people are doing business AND doing good at the same time.
The Social Starter organisers Andrea and Jiselle paid close attention to my passions and skill set, so I was very lucky to be teamed with a young budding fashion designer living in one of Rio’s inner city communidades. Meeting my client Maria Chantal for the first time made my heart glow – such a passionate and talented young woman, with a strong voice. She’s working towards promoting natural beauty within the black community in Rio, inspiring woman to embrace their natural hair. She designs and hand-makes her own head scarfs and t-shirts – take a look at her website. Maria and I will now work together for the next 5 weeks to discover how to grow her business to where she wants it to be.
It often feels like a cop-out saying that I’m volunteering, considering I am gaining so many things from this experience. I’m getting as much as I’m giving, if not more. I often have to pinch myself. If you’re wanting to travel, learn, make friends, get off the tourist track and get to know the ‘real’ version of the place you’re visiting, contribute to a lasting and meaningful impact in someones life, establish invaluable networking relationships – Social Starters will get you all this and more.
Do it. I dare you.
Previously published on: https://leahmusch.wordpress.com/2015/07/04/social-starters-a-darn-honest-review/
India – 22nd August (6 weeks) || Sri Lanka – 5th September (6 & 2 weeks) || India – 24th October (6 & 2 weeks) || Brazil – 31st October (6 & 2 weeks) || India – 31st January (6 & 2 weeks) || Sri Lanka – 13th February (6 & 2 Weeks) || Brazil – Feb/March TBC (6 & 2 weeks). With more dates soon to be published for April/May 2016 in Kenya & Sri Lanka. To apply, send your email with a cover note to firstname.lastname@example.org and clearly state in the subject heading which programme and what date you are applying for. If successful, you will invited to a Skype interview with one of the team!