Business Advising Volunteer

Before You Apply

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Project Description

Business Advising Volunteers are trained and required to work on three topics within the Community Economic Development (CED) sector: personal money management, entrepreneurship and business advising. In personal money management Volunteers promote good practices in the management of personal finances through Community Savings Groups (CSGs) and financial literacy workshops. Additionally, Volunteers collaborate with local partners to facilitate entrepreneurship courses and develop an entrepreneurial mindset in youth and adults. Finally, Volunteers have the option of advising on best management practices for rural small businesses in various economic sectors.

Business Advising Volunteers have the opportunity to work with diverse populations in their communities. Volunteers are expected to develop skills to work with community associations (cultural, sports, youth, women, productive, agricultural, etc.) and promote management of personal finances. Additionally, they work with youth from technical high schools promoting an entrepreneurial vision linked to field based small practicum projects performed during their last two years of school. The role of the Volunteer in the classroom varies greatly across program sites, but Volunteers should expect to spend a significant portion of their working hours in high school classrooms. Additionally, PCVs support informal groups that participate in technical and entrepreneurial courses to form small businesses in rural areas.

All Volunteers work with our main partner, Servicio Nacional de Aprendizaje (SENA). SENA is a nationwide public institution focused on the social and technical development of Colombians through trainings and entrepreneurial opportunities. SENA employees provide technical assistance to Volunteers and together work to promote entrepreneurship and business development with local youth, informal groups in their communities and business owners. The Volunteers also work in coordination with community leaders, small businesses, and directors/ teachers of public high schools. As a result, an additional counterpart for all Volunteers are the Ministry and Secretaries of Education.

The relationship between Peace Corps Volunteers and SENA Counterparts can vary from site to site, and Volunteers may work with SENA instructors who live in their site or collaborate with instructors assigned to a wider geographical area that they visit less frequently.

Based on the above conditions, Volunteers’ work requires flexibility in connecting local community members and organizations, who typically have limited resources or formal business training, with development and economic opportunities in rural communities.

Required Skills

Competitive candidates will have one or more of the following criteria:
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any business discipline
• 5 years professional experience in business management

Desired Skills

• Master of Business Administration degree or a Master of Arts/Master of Science degree in Business Administration, Public Administration, Management, Accounting, Banking, or Finance
• Business development experience (e.g. Working with entrepreneurs in the development of a business or income generating ideas: analysis, feasibility studies, business plan writing, and strategic planning)
• Financial Education experience (e.g. Experience working on financial education- personal and family, savings budgeting, goal settings)
• Experience working to advise small businesses/cooperatives
• Community development experience with adults and youth, especially identifying their assets and potential for growth
• Experience working with youth and female entrepreneurs
• Ability to create and maintain local networks with different stakeholders and interest groups
• Ability to design work plans and self-direct their project work, under minimal supervision
• Openness to working with diverse rural community groups and in grassroots development
• Interest in farm management/agribusiness, tourism, working in financial education and development of youth entrepreneurship programs, and/or
• Training entrepreneurs, community members and small businesses/cooperatives on basic computer skills

Required Language Skills

Candidates must meet one or more of the language requirements below in order to be considered for this position. A. Completed 4 years of high school Spanish coursework within the past 8 years B. Completed minimum 2 semesters of Spanish college‐level coursework within the past 6 years C. Native/fluent speaker of Spanish Candidates who do not meet the language proficiency levels above can take the language placement exams to demonstrate their level of proficiency. Competitive applicants typically attain a score of 50 on the Spanish College Level Examination Program CLEP exam or a score of Novice‐High on the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL OPI).

All Volunteers are required to work exclusively in the local language and Trainees must demonstrate a minimum Spanish level of intermediate-mid after 11 weeks of training. Volunteers will be required to reach a higher level of Spanish during their service, and acquire business professional vocabulary during their service. Language acquisition will be a high priority for those that complete training with the basic required Spanish level.

Living Conditions

All work sites are in small and medium sized rural communities that are typically no more than six hours from a major city in the Caribbean or Andean regions. In the Caribbean region all sites are hot and humid throughout the year and with frequent electricity outages and water shortages. Seasons are divided into dry months with limited rainfall and months of frequent rainfall and high humidity.
In the Andean region the climate is colder, especially at night. In the Andean region there is also more rainfall throughout the year and the temperature fluctuates depending upon the time of year and varied weather conditions.

Volunteers usually commute by public bus and/or mini buses to get around and to attend training/working activities.

All Volunteers are required to live with a Colombian host family for the entire 27-month service in order to promote community integration and maximize volunteer security. The host family stay can be one of the more rewarding components of Peace Corps service and an important resource for cultural integration. As such, applicants should be flexible and committed to building strong relationships with the family they are assigned. Furthermore, Volunteers are expected to spend the majority of their time in the communities where they live and work. Because of this commitment to integrating into their communities, Volunteer vacation has to be taken only during the appropriate times of the year when local organizations are not functioning.

SPECIAL NOTICE ABOUT CITIZENSHIP: Candidates who are either dual citizens of Colombia and the U.S. or who were born in Colombia and became U.S. citizens after July 4, 1991 are not eligible to serve in Peace Corps Colombia. Under Colombian law, anyone born in Colombia who became a U.S. citizen after 1991 or anyone holding dual U.S. and Colombia citizenship is considered a citizen of Colombia, and not of the United States. If such an individual faced a legal, safety or other emergency situation in Colombia, the Peace Corps' ability to intervene would be limited. If you fit either of these categories, we encourage you to look at other assignments.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Colombia: Get detailed information on culture, communications, housing, and safety — including crime statistics [PDF] — in order to make a well-informed decision about serving.

Couples Information

Post encourages couples to apply and will be assigned to the same community but have distinct work plans.

Medical Considerations

Before you apply, please review Medical Information for Applicants to learn about the clearance process and other health conditions that are difficult to accommodate in Peace Corps service.

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