Starting from this issue, AVPN will feature not only one of our accomplished members in detail, but also highlight and welcome our new members! For 2013, we are happy to have joined us:
(click on the organization name to visit their member profile on avpn website)

The iCats Program (the term iCats is derived from ‘Impact Catalysts’), which was founded by LGT Venture Philanthropy in 2007, welcomed 20 new professionals of 13 different nationalities as the intake for its fifth cohort. These professionals in the iCats Fellowship will spend 11 months with one of LGT Venture Philanthropy’s portfolio organisations spread over 15 countries globally.

The programme matches experienced professionals with temporary positions at social ventures. It serves to provide professional knowhow to its portfolio organisations alongside financial and social capital. It “bridges the gap between social ventures in need of professional know-how and resources, and business professionals with the desire to apply their knowledge and experience to benefit the social sector, thus acting as ‘impact catalysts’,” according to the programme’s website. The iCats take on clearly established roles, which typically include business developers, financial analysts, strategy consultants, sales and marketing specialists, operations and process managers, PR and communication strategists and IT architects.

The 2012 cohort had seen 26 professionals, who all finished their fellowship before Christmas last year. According to LGT Venture Philanthropy, some of the key learnings from the 2012 iCats Fellow cohort included the following:

  1. Organisational change requires strong management buy-in and its implementation takes time;
  2. Start-up organisational cultures require much flexibility and a hands-on approach from the iCats;
  3. The iCats need to establish good personal relationships with the team to create a trustful atmosphere in which change can be brought about; and
  4. Speaking the local language is often very important for a fruitful fellowship.

The new intake of 20 professionals was invited to a 4-day orientation workshop in Switzerland prior to their engagements on the ground. During this workshop training, the Fellows spent time with one another and with alumni members. They worked in groups on various case studies, learnt about cultural differences and exchanged experiences with alumni and their peers.

LGT now wants to expand the iCats Program and is looking for additional partners that “are passionate about capacity building”. It says that considering the exponential impact and success of its participants, “we anticipate expanding the programme by placing 900 Fellows into 350 social organisations around the world by 2017, contributing to the well-being of about 125 million less advantaged people”. Partners can help by either becoming fellows or mentors to share knowhow; by becoming sponsors to support nominated iCat Fellows financially; by becoming expansion partners to strengthen the capacity of the iCats Program; by becoming network partners to provide access to valuable networks for purposes of talent, funding and the like; and promotion partners to share the programme’s stories and to attract more experts.

The iCats Program Fellows are currently located in South Africa, Kenya, Colombia, Peru, Chile, Haiti, India, China, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Nicaragua.LGT Venture Philanthropy is a Founding Member of AVPN.

Read their profile here.