Engineers Without Borders: Exploring Stewardship Partners

There are a significant number of opportunities to partner with organizations that align with Ian Martin’s foundational goals for Stewardship – here’s a look at one of them.

In the early months of the Stewardship Council’s existence we spent a fair bit of time contacting and evaluating potential partnerships with charities. Engineers Without Borders is one of the organizations we looked at early on, and one that we have continued dialogue with because there is a strong alignment between our organizations.  Some examples are:

“The Kumvana Program offers 10-15 of EWB’s African professional partners the opportunity to build management and leadership skills …”

– By offering the expertise of Canadian business leaders they are teaching people to look after themselves and to pursue meaningful work.

“Engineers Without Borders helps people in developing countries use technology to improve their lives.”

 – By engaging Canadian business leaders they are unleashing technical talent for a more innovative, more prosperous world.

“EWB Canada helps turn ideas into impact. We convene collision spaces that bring cultures together, make sense of the systems we want to change, provide deeper understandings of problem definitions, highlight bright ideas, test innovations and ripen the environment for change.”

– By engaging Canadian business partners they are changing the way business is done, creating benefit for people and our planet.

In January, I was fortunate to be one of the two Ian Martin Stewardship Council representatives to attend the EWB’s annual conference called ReThink 2014. Our goal was to get a better sense of who EWB is and what they are about, and to look for the connection points for a potential partnership. The following speaks to their overall mission and the purpose of the conference:

“Poverty and inequality are not new, but more than ever, we see the levels of complexity and interconnections of these global challenges. With new abilities to understand how problems connect, we are called to share and collaborate in our work, to create solutions larger than single organizations.

Engineers Without Borders (EWB) Canada works to develop leaders, invest in entrepreneurs, and partner with individuals and organizations to tackle these global challenges. Using our work and experience in these three approaches as the foundation of this conference, we are hosting the opportunity to learn and connect together, with the goal of improving our collective efforts for global development.”

The energy of the EWB staff, the keynote speakers, and the members and their passion for creating social change was apparent immediately and throughout the conference.  They provided an environment not only for engineers but many other professionals and advocates to present, discuss and be innovative about solutions to problems of poverty and inequality.  The speakers were inspiring and the breakout sessions were true “work”shops where the facilitators engaged groups in development of ideas and calls to action.

For example a group from Hatch presided over a “game” where the attendees divided into groups and simulated the process of developing a project.  The case was for a mining development project in rural Africa and each group represented a specific stakeholder: The mining company, the community, government, international business, local business, and an environmental NGO.  In a two hour session after determining and negotiating positions and issues, and interacting with one another to gain consensus, everyone came away with a real understanding of the complexities of these large development projects.

It was in an “Innovation Forum” on the final afternoon that we found an excellent potential connection point for The Ian Martin Group to engage in a partnership with EWB.  The Pivot Fellowship is an 8-month leadership development program unlocking the work of professional intrapreneurs – individuals leading internal change within their organizations, focused on business triple bottom-line and innovation. Eight to twelve Fellows are selected and supported each year in designing and implementing their respective change projects.  Support includes two training Bootcamps, continuous coaching, peer support, networking and mentorship.  This support is specifically tailored to the industry they work in and role they play at their company.  There seems to be several aspects to this program that we could partner with EWB on, both from a volunteering and fundraising perspective.  On top of this there would be a strong potential business benefit to Ian Martin with respect to companies and candidates we could be exposed to.  We will continue to explore this opportunity in the coming months and provide updates in a future blog post.

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