Impact Champions for International Development
Leveraging the skills, expertise, and passion of virtual pro bono employees for community development and societal impact
Participants will work in virtual teams where they will apply their business, technology, and operational skills to support selected Power Africa partner organizations in East Africa to build capacity and enhance operational performance. By introducing new perspectives as well as improved and updated business practices, the teams will have a transformative impact on microgrid and energy access for rural populations in East Africa.
USAID’s support means that companies of all sizes can participate in this type of global program; the cost to participate is $1,000 per person, which includes pre-program preparation and support throughout the 12-week engagement.
Upcoming Cohort Dates and Deadlines
March 7 – June 17
Deadline to Commit: February 11
April 18 – July 29
Deadline to Commit: March 25
About Impact Champions for International Development
Impact Champions was originally created by IMPACT2030 with the belief that when companies join forces and use the skills, expertise, and creativity of their people as a force for good, they can change the world. IMPACT2030 focused on increasing private sector engagement in development and has now transferred the management of the program to PYXERA Global.
Employees participating in Impact Champions will collaborate with other corporate professionals from across a broad range of industries. Together, they will form 4-5 person teams for a 12-week virtual assignment to build capacity in organizations that work to enable greater access to energy in rural areas of East Africa.
USAID will fund the underlying program development, administration, and implementation, thus creating an affordable option for firms who join the effort. The fee for each participant will be $1,000 USD inclusive of pre-program preparation and program support throughout the assignment.
Global Pro Bono Programs Provide a 'Triple Win'
Unparalleled global leadership development for participants
Skilled consulting to build capacity in host non-profit organizations
New insights, engaged employees, and well-deserved CSR reputations for the participating companies
Cohort 1 Outcomes
From April–July 2021, 13 employees from five different private sector companies—Boston Scientific, Linklaters, PIMCO, SAP, and Tata Consulting Services—worked in teams of four-five to support three partner organizations collaborating with USAID under the Power Africa program: Hello Solar, Pawame, and Simusolar. All three organizations work to bring affordable solar energy to businesses and households across Kenya, Tanzania, and Ethiopia. Each Impact Champions project had a unique focus, ranging from developing a customer vetting process to building an IT architecture plan for improved internal operations.
Number of new clients partner organizations anticipate reaching in the next year
of participants stated that Impact Champions helped them learn something about themselves personally
of participants stated that Impact Champions resulted in coming up with new ideas and/or improvements for their work at their company
[The Impact Champions team] were from different backgrounds [compared to Simusolar staff]. I feel that if all the IC team was from one company, that company’s way of doing things could have become the focus of the project. With a diverse team, they were able to instead focus on what we need. [The team’s work] redefined our IT architecture to be streamlined and customer-focused while being a multi-cloud structure. Bringing in that consistency will have a big impact on how well our staff understand our customer’s journey with us, complementing our service design process.”
— VAIBHAV VAIDYA, CTO, Simusolar
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the objective of the Impact Champions program?
Impact Champions was originally developed by IMPACT2030 with the belief that when companies join forces and use the skills, expertise, and creativity of their people as a force for good, they can change the world. After developing the program with the goal to increase private sector engagement in international development, IMPACT2030 has transferred the management of the program to PYXERA Global.
What is IMPACT2030?
IMPACT2030 was created to unite companies through collective action and harness the skills and creativity of their employees to advance the Sustainable Development Goals.
What is Power Africa?
Power Africa is a U.S. Government–led partnership, coordinated by USAID, that brings together the collective resources of over 150 public and private sector partners to double access to electricity in sub-Saharan Africa. Power Africa’s goal is to add more than 30,000 megawatts (MW) of cleaner, more efficient electricity generation capacity and 60 million new home and business connections.
What is Global Pro Bono?
Global Pro Bono (GPB) programs are corporate-sponsored initiatives aligned to a company’s broader strategy. Participating employees leverage their professional skills to assist social mission-driven partner organizations such as non-profits, social enterprises, and government entities. Projects are time-bound and deliverable-based and are intended to provide economic and social benefits to the partner organization and community while building leadership behaviors, creating market insights, and spurring innovative thinking amongst employees. Programs have been designed to address a variety of corporate objectives, including providing experiential learning opportunities for high potential employees, directly engaging employees in the company’s corporate social responsibility strategy in critical growth markets, developing employees’ global perspectives, and addressing vital design and innovation challenges for new or growing markets.
How is Impact Champions different from other Global Pro Bono Programs?
Most Global Pro Bono programs are staffed and funded by a single corporation. The Impact Champions for International Development is designed to have multiple companies represented on the cohort and is an opportunity for companies to send single individuals (up to three), paying the $1,000 per participant fee. This provides an affordable way for small and medium companies to participate, as well as an economical way for large companies to pilot an approach and determine whether a corporate pro bono program would meet their strategic needs.
How many corporations will be involved in this project?
In 2021, we expect to field two teams of 12-15 participants on this innovative project. Each participating company may send 1 to 3 participants per team, however, no one company will comprise more than 35% of the total team. The final selection of candidates is determined by PYXERA Global to ensure skillset matching.
What does the $1,000 fee cover? What is covered by USAID?
The $1,000 per participant fee covers the direct expenses of the participating company’s employees, such as the pre-program preparation and administrative costs associated with participation. Companies pay PYXERA Global, and PYXERA Global manages all program components, including the scope of work development, team matching, participant communications, and the appropriate support to assure that participants are prepared and have all resources needed during the assignment. USAID will fund underlying program and project development, administration, and implementation, thus creating an affordable option for firms who join the effort.
What is the virtual pro bono experience like?
Virtual pro bono allows employees to leverage their skills and expertise, develop innovative solutions for mission-driven organizations, and participate in cross-functional, cultural exchanges without the burden of travel and coordinating time off from their full-time job. In an increasingly digital world, virtual pro bono offers employees the unique opportunity to strengthen their communication, collaboration, and leadership skills in a virtual environment.
How does the virtual pro bono experience differ from an in-person pro bono experience?
Unlike in-person pro bono projects where employees dedicate 100% of their time to the project during the program period, virtual pro bono projects offer employees more flexibility as they participate on a part-time basis and incorporate the pro bono project into their full-time job workload. Employees spend fewer hours per week on the project compared to in-person projects; however, to ensure enough time is dedicated to the project and the completion of its deliverables, the virtual pro bono project period is longer in duration.
With the virtual nature of the program, how will participants gain an understanding of the realities and challenges in the rural communities where energy access is most needed?
A series of videos will be provided to participants to support in understanding the environment where their partner organization and beneficiaries work. Partner organizations have been asked to support in providing video introductions of leadership as well as videos that will support the participant’s understanding of the main issues relevant to the assigned project. Direct meetings and interviews will be arranged with key stakeholders, which may include end-users and technical staff in the rural communities.
Why should companies participate in Impact Champions?
Traditional corporate social responsibility contributes to global development with dollars, while Impact Champions will use your employees’ expertise to contribute to impact through the transfer of critical skills and knowledge that is often unattainable in the local market.
How does the company benefit from sending employees?
Companies primarily benefit in three ways. First, companies gain insight into rapid growth economies through their employees. Secondly, employees develop global leadership capabilities that they carry with them back to their jobs and throughout their careers. This experience provides leadership development experience for hundreds of corporate leaders, accelerating both their intellectual understanding of new markets and sector areas, as well as their working in cross-cultural and cross-company teams. Finally, companies earn reputations for authentic corporate social responsibility by putting their most important resources to work on critical community challenges.
What are the benefits to participating employees?
Participants gain critical global leadership skills through an experience that accelerates both intellectual understanding and emotional intelligence. Participants will learn new information and skills about working in emerging markets, including learning to work in complex environments with limited resources. This will provide them with insights on how to create value, which they can take back to their workplace. The experience enhances their career while also offering high-impact expertise to organizations that would not otherwise have access to the skills and expertise that the corporate employees would bring.
Through Impact Champions, participants also have the opportunity to work with employees from other private-sector corporations, which can lead to appropriate partnerships lasting well beyond the timeframe of the assignment.
What are the requirements for individuals to participate?
The Impact Champions program is looking for high–performing, highly–skilled, corporate professionals willing and able to spend 12 weeks providing pro bono, capacity-building support to partner organizations that are addressing energy access challenges. No specific experience in either energy access or the region is required or expected. We highly suggest that all participants meet at least the following:
- Two-year tenure with your company
- At least 3-5 years of professional experience
- Be in high standing, ideally with potential for leadership
The participant skillsets and experience needed are:
- Information Technology
- Management Systems
- Strategy & Planning
- Human Resources
- Process Management
- Client Management
- Customer Relations
Additionally, participants are welcome who have specific knowledge/experience with the following, though it is not required:
- Credit/Loan Management
- IT Design and Architecture
- Curriculum Design and Training
In addition to the professional skills, the program is looking for participants who are willing to embrace the unknown. Curiosity, flexibility, creativity, good humor, and an abiding interest in serving others are personal qualities that we have found to be important in pro bono assignments as well.
How are applicants recruited once a company commits to the program?
Companies may run an internal application and interview process, or hand select candidates that are part of existing leadership or high potential programs. If needed, PYXERA Global has developed a standard application form that companies can use to guide their internal application process.
How will participants be selected?
Due to high demand and limited availability, the 12-15 available slots per team will be on a first-come, first-served basis, but participating employee skill sets must be matched to the project needs to be accepted. PYXERA Global will provide guidance on the skill sets needed for each cohort. Once a company commits to the program, they will submit between 3-6 candidates for final selection by PYXERA Global. This will ensure that all projects have the right mix of skillsets to achieve the objective.
What is the level of effort for participants?
During the 12-week assignment, participants will be asked to contribute 5-8 hours of business time per week towards the defined goal and agreed–upon project scopes. They are required to attend team meetings including, but not limited to, a team-building meeting and orientation session during the pre-program phase, a launch event with partner organizations, weekly team meetings, and a close-out event at the end of the assignment, which includes presentations and a debriefing.
Most all-team meetings will take place during normal business hours, while sub–team meetings, as well as meetings with partner organizations, may take place outside of business hours. This is dependent on the participant’s schedule and what they decide as a team with their partner organization.
What is the time commitment from an employee participating in the program?
- Pre-program Preparation: Participants will undertake 1-2 hours of work each week for three weeks before the assignment, in which they will join weekly phone calls with PYXERA Global and their team.
- Virtual Assignment: Participants will participate virtually for 5-8 hours per week for 12 consecutive weeks. Participants will be featured in communications while on assignment (which could include press, social media, photography, etc.) and will be encouraged to communicate about their experience, ideally weekly.
- Post-assignment: Participants will be expected to participate in a modest level of communications activities and respond to immediate and long-term surveys. Participants will also attend a one-hour virtual debrief session within one month of program completion.
Why do participants need to do pre-program preparation and what does it entail?
The Impact Champions program consists of a three-week preparatory phase prior to beginning the virtual assignment. Pre-work helps to set the stage for the assignment so that participants are as prepared as possible to make an impact on their partner organization from day one of the assignment. Virtual pre-work will be conducted via Microsoft Teams and consists of a series of modules covering program objectives, energy access issues, fundamental and consulting skills and operating in a virtual environment, and communications, among other relevant topics. Participants are also introduced to their assignment during the pre-work phase and are encouraged to begin working in their sub-teams to develop a work plan and approach prior to beginning the assignment.
What are the dates and deadlines for 2022?
- SPRING COHORT: March 7 – June 17
(commitment date February 11)
- FALL COHORT: April 18 – July 29
(commitment date March 25)