Webinar #3: VIVID-T The Impact of Volunteering - Inclusive Volunteering & Social Entrepreneurship Skills. October 2020

You can watch the complete webinar here. 

Continuing our webinars relating to the VIVID:T project, this webinar, which was held on October 15, dealt with the impact inclusive volunteering can have on the development of social entrepreneurship skills. Could inclusive volunteering help young people to become more determined to tackle ongoing social issues by becoming social entrepreneurs?

First off, Rebecca Daniel, who works on the UNDP’s Talent Programme for Persons with Disabilities, shared her experiences. As part of this programme, over 70 volunteers with disabilities have already been deployed to various UN agencies all over the world. Rebecca underlined the importance of considering accessibility during all stages of the deployment process, starting with the need for inclusive language and accessible communication formats in order to find and recruit potential volunteers. If young people with disabilities feel like they’re not meant to take part in the programme, they will not be willing to apply, which is why UN Volunteers indicates the level of accessibility in all their assignment descriptions. Apart from targeted outreach strategies, Rebecca also explained that an accessible interview process, an assessment of the volunteers’ needs, sufficient resources in terms of staff and funding as well as a good evaluation procedure are vital in order to guarantee a successful volunteering experience for participants with disabilities.

One of the volunteers taking part in the UNV Talent Programme is Namchok Petsaen, who was the next speaker at the webinar. He is from Thailand and started his project last year at the SDG Innovation Lab in Armenia. After being forced to return home as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, he has recently restarted his project and is now working as communications assistant for UNV in Bangkok. Namchok described how he has been able to raise awareness about disabilities in the workplace and could improve accessibility from within the UN system. He is now using his experience to launch his own project, an online platform that provides information about the accessibility of tourist destinations.

The last speaker, Dr. Tanja Collavo, teaches social entrepreneurship at the University of Oxford Department of Continuing Education. She explained the concept of social entrepreneurship, which aims at creating social impact through entrepreneurial means. Social enterprises can range from revenue-generating businesses to non-profit organisations. Tanja elaborated on the advantages, but also the challenges within the sector and gave best-practice examples.

How does volunteerism promote social entrepreneurship? According to Tanja, volunteering provides young people with essential entrepreneurial skills, while also teaching them to be empathetic and committed to making a difference. It gives them insight into a certain sector and its inherent problems, but also possible solutions to those problems. Furthermore, volunteers get access to a network that can be extremely helpful when starting their journey as a social entrepreneur later o