There is a saying, often attributed to Saint Augustine[i]:
The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.
Ann Davis understands the value of travel. She traveled to Chile for a study abroad experience with Tulane University. She lived with a local family. “I fell in love with Latin America,” she recalls. She saw the cultural differences between her and the local community, but she also saw the commonalities that connected them.
After graduating from Tulane, Ann joined Teach for America and taught in New Orleans. About a year into her teaching assignment, Ann was out running with some friends when she experienced a jolting feeling in her leg. “I felt an electric shock run up the side of my leg,” she says, “kind of like I stuck my foot in a toaster.” She fell to the ground and had a grand mal seizure.
Ann was rushed to the hospital. Two weeks later, the doctor delivered the bad news. She had brain cancer. With this diagnosis, Ann says “There was a mind shift.” Her priorities shifted. She began to explore her passions.
For the next couple of years, Ann continued to explore her passions, while she continued teaching. She moved to New York and taught in PAVE Schools. She also completed her Master’s degree.
One of the ways that Ann explored possible paths forward was to explore Idealist.org. Ann found an executive director role with an organization in Trujillo, Peru. She applied for the job and was accepted. “I just moved there on a whim, not knowing anyone there, and not knowing the organization as well,” she recalls.
Once in Trujillo, Ann began to connect with several nonprofits, all of whom needed volunteers and services. An idea began to develop. Ann imagined an organization where professionals could come to Peru to live, work and explore the culture. They could volunteer with a network of nonprofits. This would allow the individuals to experience personal growth and would provide help to the nonprofits.
From this idea, Ann launched Venture with Impact. Venture with Impact recruits professionals interested in working remotely and matches them with a nonprofit or social business in various regions of the world. The participants of the program use their unique skill sets to help these social businesses allowing them to make a difference while still working their career.
Professionals who sign up are given a place to stay, co working space if they are working remotely, and 24/7 support from Venture with Impact staff that are in the country. Additionally, weekend trips, day trips, and other cultural activities are offered throughout the stay. Once a week there is a general meeting with all the participants on the trip to discuss the culture, what is going on in their business, and in their volunteer opportunity. An explains, “It’s quite an experience because there is so much personal growth that takes place week to week.”
“It’s more of a learning experience and professional development experience from both ends.”
“There were so many cultural differences, but I also had a greater understanding of how similar we were.”
“I underestimated the importance of the needs of the partners and the skills of the participants.”
“I hard-core bootstrapped.”
“I have not done this alone.”
“I have received so much help from friends, family, and even strangers.”
“I think it’s important not to be afraid to ask for help and share your idea.”
“People want to help, and often they are gaining something as well.”