Christopher Jurgens is the Global Partnerships Division Director in USAID’s Office of Innovation and Development Alliances.

All too often, service and volunteerism are viewed as well-intentioned efforts with limited impact. However, international corporate volunteerism (ICV) programs have significant untapped potential within the development space—potential to both contribute to U.S. development assistance, and to support diplomacy efforts in emerging markets. ICV programs can serve as valuable tools in the formation and implementation of complex development programs worldwide.

It is with this potential and value in mind that I am excited to participate in the 3rd Annual International Corporate Volunteerism Conference. This two-day conference (April 11-12) will involve participants from more than 150 companies – from small businesses to Fortune 500s – NGOs, and government agencies, and highlight best practices and lessons learned from ICV initiatives. Sample topics include how development impact is measured; what has been achieved to date; and the impact ICV programs have on the private sector. I look forward to is a discussing the Center of Excellence for International Corporate Volunteerism (CEICV), a partnership between USAID, IBM, and CDC Development Solutions.

The CEICV is a two-year pilot program that brings together private sector and development professionals. By participating, private sector participants gain access to best practices and infrastructure for developing and running corporate pro-bono consulting programs. USAID Mission beneficiaries gain access to teams of talented individuals and technical assistance. Partners hope that the CEICV will establish a self-sustaining international corporate program that will serve as a resource to:

  1. Enhance USAID’s development efforts by leveraging the skills and expertise of corporate volunteers in the implementation of USAID projects in critical Agency sectors;
  2. Increase the number of participating companies and active skilled business volunteers and the impact and effectiveness of their contributions; and
  3. Track the development impact of ICV programs and create a proof of concept focused on best practices for mobilizing corporate volunteers to increase development impact.

Our partner IBM is a particularly active company in the ICV space. To date, the company has dispatched more than 1,200 of its top employees to over 100 engagements in nearly 20 countries as part of its Corporate Service Corps.  These highly skilled teams of IBM professionals implement projects to improve local economic conditions, support entrepreneurship, and improve transportation, education, health care, and disaster recovery.

More recently, IBM has turned to USAID to improve the development impact of its work through close coordination with USAID programs and objectives on the ground.  With the goal of providing more than 100 pro-bono consultants in a two-year period to USAID Missions around the world, the partners seek to enhance existing USAID projects by providing team-based, short-term, pro-bono technical assistance.  For example, a team heading to Ghana will be working with USAID’s Deliver project to work with the Ministry of Health to help improve the management information system of the country’s health commodities supply chain.  The improved efficiency will provide many more people with cheaper access to medicine and health supplies.

IBM plans to undertake similar assignments together with USAID in other countries.  Corporate volunteers and ICV programs have the potential to make a significant positive impact on development outcomes, especially when leveraged against USAID’s development assistance strategies. As USAID reflects on the one-year anniversary of the CEICV pilot program, we are eager to see what the future holds!

Interested in learning more about a CEICV Partnership? Contact Kathleen Hunt at IDEA’s Global Partnerships office at (202) 712-0076 or