Community Economic Development Facilitator

Before You Apply

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Project Description

Peace Corps Timor-Leste re-opened in 2015. We are actively building the programs here and you will be part of that dynamic process. You will be serving in a newly revised Community Economic Development Project addressing the need for improving economic opportunities. There are two interlinked aspects of being a Peace Corps Volunteer in this project: (1) improving an organization’s ability to operate effectively and (2) improving economic security of individuals in the community.

You will be assigned to a community with one or more work partners. One of the partners will be your main “anchor” work partner who has requested a Peace Corps Volunteer and with whom you will spend most of your time. Your anchor work partner will be a cooperative, association or community based organization. You will train and advise the group in business planning, marketing, financial management, product design, quality and consistency. You will also teach individuals in your assigned organization and the broader community how to manage income and expenses leading to greater household stability. Other work partners may be community based organizations, the school, the village council or other associations that also could use your support and help.

The organizations where you will be assigned face challenges limiting their effectiveness. They will certainly be different, both structurally and culturally, from other organizations you have encountered. As a post-conflict country with poor infrastructure and public systems, most people have not been exposed to effective systems so they lack the vision on how to effectively manage their organization or group. They have not had opportunities to learn or develop management skills. As a result your assigned organization may not look the kind of workplace you are familiar with and may be challenging to navigate.

The organization will operate under distinctly different cultural norms than which you are accustomed. Cultural differences include power distance (degree to which a culture accepts unequal distribution of power), direct and indirect communication style, and pace of events (work related events appear to lack urgency). These cultural differences as well as others will require that you learn to predict the behavior of host country nationals at work and change your behavior to conform.

Timor-Leste is facing a large unskilled youth bubble with nearly 70% of the population under the age of 25. Many of these young people are not working nor in school. Consequently, Volunteers are encouraged to look for ways to engage youth to build and apply entrepreneurial skills, working with their anchor partner or other community organizations.

Volunteer activities are centered around:
1. Training individuals and households in financial management skills.
2. Coaching individuals to apply business skills to a new or existing income generating activity.
3. Training individuals on leadership or other skills to improve employability.
4. Training organizations to improve their performance and organizational learning capacity.
5. Training organizations in project planning, design and management.

Timor-Leste is a young and vibrant democracy. You will have a rare opportunity to be working among the nation’s heroes and freedom fighters that are still active in leading the nation. Most communities have experience with development projects sponsored by large international donor organizations, yet they are seeking a different kind of assistance by partnering with Peace Corps. Community members expect you, as a Peace Corps Volunteer, to speak the local language, respect and value the Timorese culture, and find ways to transfer your skills. They appreciate when Volunteers work to create change through education, role modeling, demonstration, inspiration and motivation.

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

Qualified candidates will have one or more of the following criteria:
• Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Science degree in any field
• 5 years' professional work experience

In addition, qualified candidates will also exhibit the following:
• Ability to work in a potentially unstructured environment with limited resources;
• Cross-cultural awareness and sensitivity to characteristics of post-conflict populations;
• Ability to adapt to a culture with unequal distribution of power and indirect communication;
• Patience for working in an environment with a different sense of urgency than you are accustomed; and
• Commitment to serving a community at their pace, level and according to the community’s priorities

Desired Skills

Required Language Skills

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

Additional Language Information

You will learn the country’s official language, Tetun, during Pre-Service Training and you must demonstrate intermediate proficiency after 9 weeks of training. Many Volunteers will also learn a local language spoken in their district during their service.

Since Portuguese is the National language and many words have been incorporated into Tetun, Portuguese and Spanish speakers will find that helpful in Timor-Leste.

Living Conditions

- Underdeveloped Infrastructure: Roads are in poor condition and may be washed out and impassable during the rainy season. You may have to walk or cycle as much as one hour over rugged terrain to the main road to catch public transportation (small truck or mini-bus) to a larger city.

- Utilities/telecommunications: Amenities such as electricity, running water, and cell phone reception will vary from site to site. There may be periods of time without electricity. Cell phone coverage is improving but there are still some “dead” zones. Internet connectivity is slow and expensive, although most Volunteers can access internet at least once a week.

- Housing: You will be required to live with host families during Pre-Service Training as well as at your permanent site during your service. In many sites independent housing options are not available.

- Unwanted attention: Volunteers report frequent episodes of unwanted attention on public transportation and in the capital city of Dili. This can be uncomfortable and stressful.

Learn more about the Volunteer experience in Timor-Leste: 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 Timor-Leste

  • Timor-Leste may not be able to support Volunteers with the following medical conditions: asthma, including mild or childhood; dermatology; insulin-dependent diabetes; gastroenterology; mammography; requiring a psychiatrist for psychotropic medications support; ongoing counseling.
  • The following medication(s) are not permitted for legal or cultural reasons: Adderall, Ritalin and Vyvanse.
  • Volunteers who should avoid the following food(s) may not be able to serve: gluten.
  • After arrival in Timor-Leste, Peace Corps provides and applicants are required to have an annual flu shot, to take daily or weekly medication to prevent malaria, and to receive mandatory immunizations.

Before you apply, please also 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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