Business Development Volunteer

Before You Apply

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Project Description

Peace Corps began its program in Ukraine in 1992. Initially, the project was called Business Development. At that time, the project aimed to support Ukraine’s transition to a free market economy. As the country changed, so did the project priorities. After multiple consultations with Ukrainian Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, Peace Corps’ national partner and beneficiary, and other stakeholders, Peace Corps Ukraine developed the Community Development Project, which was registered with the Ukrainian Government in 2008. In 2013, the current project was revised and extended through 2018.

The project’s purpose is to help Ukrainian communities become more socially and economically vibrant through a stronger civil society and business environment.
The Project Goals are:
1. Citizen Participation and Service Learning
2. Organizational Development
3. Economic Opportunities
The overarching goal of the Community Development project is to help establish new partnerships and strengthen existing cooperation between community members and groups in order to enable the community to more effectively assess, plan, and implement community, social, and economic development.

Volunteers help their Ukrainian counterparts develop leadership skills, promote volunteerism, civic engagement, service learning, advocate for positive changes, and strengthen civil society. Volunteers also assist in organizational capacity building of the partner organizations in the areas of planning, internal management, programming, service delivery, and financial sustainability.

In the realm of small business and economic development, Volunteers improve the business skills of their Ukrainian counterparts and help them cultivate new economic opportunities to benefit their communities. As a response to the newly emerging environment, the areas of activities Volunteers may be involved in include sustaining volunteerism, facilitating fundraising, developing charity and philanthropy, as well as assisting Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), veterans and local government reform on decentralization.

Local government decentralization reform stands out as the most significant new focus in the Peace Corps Ukraine’s Community Development Project. This and other reforms aimed at strengthening civil society and encouraging civic engagement at local levels is long overdue. This legislation transfers powers from the national-level Office of the President and Cabinet of Ministers to local governments, empowering them to be more effective in delivering services to the community. It also gives local governments more budgetary powers in the delivery of their community services. As promising as the reforms may sound, they also presents its set of challenges, such as lack of experience in local government, skills, and human and financial resources. This is where the Community Development Volunteers’ diverse cultural and professional background will be an asset. A Volunteer may be assigned to a town council or work with several towns and villages that form an amalgamated community, which is a new territorial unit.

Business Developers work in NGOs that promote small business development, such as unions of entrepreneurs, business associations, and business centers. They also work in local government offices and business schools, promoting and teaching entrepreneurship, social entrepreneurship, business, and economic development. Typical activities include conducting trainings and providing free consulting on a business startup, strategic planning, marketing, organizational development, and tourism development.

Provided that their primary host organization’s needs are met, Business Development Volunteers may also choose to partner with local business schools and teach basic business subjects and Business English, develop business education curricula, design training materials, work with women and minority groups to strengthen their participation in the economic system, and assist local and regional governments in planning and implementing economic development strategies.

Required Skills

Competitive candidates will meet or exceed the following criteria:
• BA/BS in any business field (Economics, Business Administration, Management, Accounting, Banking, Finance, Marketing); or
• 5 years business experience
• Flexibility, adaptability, emotional maturity, ability to overcome challenges, cross-cultural awareness and sensitivity, creativity, and a sincere commitment to Peace Corps service.

Desired Skills

Skills that make Business Development candidates more competitive include:
• Strong presentation and training facilitation skills;
• Fundraising and grant writing experience;
• IT skills.

Required Language Skills

There are no pre-requisite language requirements for this position.

Additional Language Information

The Ukrainian language is considered to be a difficult – but not impossible – language to learn. The key to success is attitude.

Peace Corps Ukraine offers a strong, 11-week, pre-service language learning program to get you started with your language learning journey. Ukrainian is the national language, and every Volunteer is advantaged by having a language foundation in Ukrainian. Volunteers should be prepared to serve in Ukrainian-speaking communities even if they bring Russian language skills. However, many communities also speak Russian because Ukraine is a bilingual country. Volunteers may elect to switch to Russian after training, but their training in Ukrainian will remain an asset.

Trainees must demonstrate a minimum novice-mid oral proficiency in Ukrainian by the end of pre-service training.

Prior experience of studying a foreign language will be of use.

Living Conditions

• Host Family
Host family stays are required during the 11 week pre-service training (PST) and initial 6 months of service. A host family may be the only option for Volunteers during their service in some communities. The Ukrainian diet is bread-based diet with lots of pork and dairy prepared daily. Most Ukrainians keep household pets; cats or dogs are to be expected. After initial 6 months, options for housing may include a room in a dormitory, a private apartment or house, or a part of a family house. Volunteers often choose to live with their host families for their entire service because of their close relationships and the safety and cultural integration it affords.

• Diversity Challenges
Peace Corps is challenging regardless of location, and in some way you will be a minority and may invite unwanted attention. Peace Corp's pre-service training will address these types of issues to prepare you for service. Despite limited exposure to minorities, segments of Ukrainian society are gradually becoming more tolerant with regards to ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation.

Ukraine has more strictly defined conservative gender roles, especially for women. In general, Volunteers may experience a lot of attention in their communities; ethnically diverse Volunteers may face additional unwanted attention. While homosexual relationships are not considered a crime, sexual orientation and gender identities are typically considered taboo topics in Ukraine. Most LGBTQ Volunteers choose to be discreet about their sexual orientation and/or gender identity within their host communities.
Peace Corps Ukraine is committed to creating a supportive and inclusive environment for all Volunteers.

• Transportation
Volunteers will use public transportation. The country is well-served by trains and mini-buses are used for inter-city transportation. Many roads are in poor conditions. Volunteers usually walk from home to the first available transportation, and this could take between 10 - 45 minutes. In small villages, walking is the main way of getting around or getting to the main road.

• Climate
The climate in Ukraine includes four distinct seasons and is similar to the upper Midwest or upstate New York. Winter lasts from November - March and can be cold with heavy snowfalls and ice. Volunteers should also come prepared with quality, warm winter clothes since many public buildings are not heated or poorly heated.

• Dress
You have been invited to serve in Ukraine in a professional capacity and therefore we expect that you will bring with you professional attire. This attire will be appropriate for your work setting and for walking about town. For women, this consists of slacks and a blouse or sweater or a mid-length or long skirt and a blouse or sweater. Your choice of apparel should be conservative in cut. Appropriate attire for men includes slacks and an Oxford shirt or, less formally, chinos and a polo shirt.

• Physical requirements
Assignments in Ukraine are physically challenging and will require volunteers to be physically fit to walk up and down stairs, ride public transportation, and sometimes use a Turkish squat toilet. Volunteers must be able to walk on uneven terrain/pavement and carry at least 20 pounds.

• Working conditions/hours
Volunteer service is a full-time job. You will work a full day based on the schedule of your school, center, or organization. The usual schedule is Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. until 6 p.m. There also will be times at which you will need to work on weekends. Although you may find that some of your colleagues do not firmly observe business hours, as a development worker you will be expected to set a good example by being punctual and by always being available at the workplace during business or school hours.

• Internet Access
Internet is available in most places, though the connection speed and consistency can often be lower than what you are accustomed to in the United States.

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

Medical Considerations in Ukraine

  • Ukraine may not be able to support Volunteers with the following medical conditions: requiring a psychiatrist for psychotropic medications support; ongoing counseling.
  • The following medication(s) are not permitted for legal or cultural reasons: none identified.
  • Volunteers who should avoid the following food(s) may not be able to serve: gluten, peanuts.
  • After arrival in Ukraine, Peace Corps provides and applicants are required to have an annual flu shot and mandatory immunizations.

Before you apply, please also review Important Medical Information for Applicants [PDF] to learn about other health conditions typically not supported in Peace Corps service.


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