ABV typically works in governance, micro-small-medium enteprise development, education and training, health and the environment. The following case studies consist of recent examples of our work.
ABV Leadership Development Program Continues to Grow
Since commencing in 2008, the ABV Leadership Development Program has gone from strength to strength. As one of three worldwide providers working with IBM, this program sees teams of high-potential IBM employees gain first-hand development experience while strengthening their skills and leadership capacity.
According to the President of IBM’s International Foundation and Vice President of IBM’s Corporate Citizenship and Corporate Affairs, Stanley Litow, “What we as a company get is leaders with a broader range of skills that can function in a global context. What the individual participant gets is a unique set of leadership opportunities and development experiences. And what the communities get are IBM’s best problem solving skills. It’s a triple benefit.”
From February this year, ABV will be sending six teams of 10 IBM participants to five countries, including China, India, Malaysia, Philippines and Vietnam. Further expansion will also see ABV as the first provider to deliver the IBM Executive Program in Vietnam. Incorporating IBM’s Smarter Cities approach, the Executive Program will give senior staff the opportunity to see how the decision chain works, from a ministerial and corporate level, through to its impact within the community. ABV sees this as an important step in helping raise awareness of the needs within developing communities.
ABV CEO Michael Lynch states “We are looking forward to continuing our relationship with IBM and using our Leadership Development Program to assist more organisations achieve their goals whilst making a meaningful contribution towards international development and the alleviation of global poverty.”
Click here for more information on the ABV Leadership Development Program.
Airports Vanuatu Limited, Vanuatu
Airports Vanuatu Limited (AVL) operates and maintains the three international airports and the national air traffic service system in Vanuatu. Established in 2000, AVL’s main objective is to provide airport and air traffic service provisions and air freight terminal operations. A volunteer was requested to assist develop a strategic plan to guide AVL in its long-term objectives and future business plans. The business plan will assist the Executive Management Group in delivering successful business projects that will provide structure and guidance.
The client reported that this was a highly successful assignment that has provided AVL with a clearer sense of direction and purpose in what has to be done and when. It has taken AVL from a reactive operational type to one that is pro-active and strategic. Ni-Vanuatu senior staff members are now familiar with and capable of using strategic planning methodology. A couple of them are now commencing separate strategic planning exercises for their own divisions. The client reported that Volunteer, Andrew Neeson, was extremely competent in his field and was held in high regard by all participants. This level of expertise is not readily available in Vanuatu so AVL was very appreciative of the assistance provided. Andrew has also maintained contact with the client to offer additional advice when necessary.
Coffee Industry Corporation (CIC), PNG
Furthering the relationship between ABV and the Coffee Industry Corporation (CIC), Human Resources Manager Stephen Tumae requested assistance with both improving research capabilities at their research centre located at Aiyura as well as polishing their corporate planning processes at their head office in Goroka. Volunteer couple Bruce and June Young addressed the issues jointly to the satisfaction of CIC. Through the delivery of seminars, individual coaching and discussions, the Volunteers felt confident that CIC understood and acknowledged the importance of corporate planning processes and in turn were well equipped to tackle strategic planning processes on behalf of coffee industry stakeholders.
These two assignments form part of a larger program approach initiated by CIC in 2006. CIC also hosted a third Volunteer during the review period, assisting them in reviewing the existing Human Resources plan. The Volunteer used participatory methods to include all levels of the organization in developing the plan and staff has expressed genuine ownership of the reviewed HR plan, which has been well received and supported by the staff and management alike. The complementary skills of all volunteers assigned to CIC have benefited the organization in improving both its internal processes as well as promoting the coffee industry more widely within East Highlands Province.
Food Crop Research Institute, Vietnam
Food Crops Research Institute (FCRI) conducts research on plant biotechnology, physiology and biochemistry, genetics, plant breeding and cultivation. FCRI also conducts research with internal and international institutions, and scientific experts to transfer technology, training, consultancy on agricultural and rural development. To keep up to date with new international scientific research on food crops, FCRI required a Volunteer to train staff in scientific English language. The success of the assignment was a combination of the Volunteer’s expertise, flexiblity and patience with the 26 staff involved.
Since completion of the assignment, staff now have access to a wider range of material including reports, new research techniques and journal articles. As majority of this material is published in English, the institute would not have been able to progress with its own research and procedures if staff had not received the necessary language training provided by the Volunteer. The improved language skills of the staff has also enabled the institute to make networks to develop partnerships with Australian and other overseas universities and research centres to exchange and share valuable knowledge and food crop research.
Lao Disabled Women’s Development Centre (LDWDC)
Lao Disabled Women’s Development Centre (LDWDC) has been a long-term client of ABV since its establishment in 2002. LDWDC provide training and employment to disabled women in arts, handcraft and computer training to assist isolated Lao disabled women become active and economically independent members of the community. Advocacy is also a large part of fulfilling the centre’s mission and encouraging people with disabilities achieve their goals through access to resources provided at the centre.
The centre has very limited capacity to sustain the organisation without the support of volunteers. There is great need for capacity building across many areas of the organisation including some business planning, marketing and finance management.
The most recent assignment focused on improving the organisations financial management. This work has facilitated greater transparency in the financial activities of the centre and given LDWDC managers a better understanding of their cash flow position, which enables them to make informed business decisions relating to expenditure. Financial management training also improved their capacity to report to international and local donors. It has also developed staff member’s skills in the area
The client counterpart’s capacity and confidence has improved to the stage where they are now independently operating through the MYOB system to manage the centre’s accounts. They have additionally identified another staff member to whom they will transfer skills. Because of the newly installed computerised financial system, there is a noticeable increase in efficiency. The centre is meeting deadlines, saving time and increasing cost savings.
There has been a continuous improvement in English language and literacy skills, not only through the opportunity for interaction with a native English speaking volunteer but with the inability of MYOB to translate to Lao, therefore forcing staff to interact daily with English language tasks and learning at a quicker pace out of necessity.
Counterpart staff and the Volunteer, Tim Smith, developed a good working relationship during the assignment. The client commented on the Tim’s very easy going and gentle nature and obvious patience and flexibility in his training approach, which helped create a suitable pace and positive training environment allowing for significant skills transfer.
ABV will continue to support LDWDC with additional assignments already scheduled.
Securities Exchange Commission Of Cambodia (SECC)
In 2005, ABV undertook an initial feasibility study on establishing the first Cambodian Securities Market. This study was undertaken for the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) of the Royal Government of Cambodia and concluded that a market was feasible. This assignment was undertaken by Dominic Mobbs.
In 2008 and 2009, ABV undertook further detailed scope and planning projects for establishing the market. Leo Chessell and Ross Steele delivered this work in three separate short-term assignments. As a result of these assignments and the extensive experience of these two expert Volunteers who have worked in both Australian and overseas securities markets, the Royal Government of Cambodia subsequently engaged ABV to provide technical assistance to draft regulations for the Securities Exchange Commission of Cambodia (SECC, the regulatory body), rules for the CSX, rules for a dealers association and recommendations for wider changes to achieve legislative clarity and consistency.
The goal of the most recent assignments was to conduct an in-depth study specifying in detail the assistance needed from ABV for the whole project of securities market development. This work involved clearly defining what had been done so far and what would need to be done for the establishment of a viable and robust securities market. An essential component of this work plan included assistance with institutional strengthening of SECC and the specification of commitments SECC would need to make to ensure the projects success.
This groundwork proved entirely positive and saw the completion of a full project plan. Following the acceptance of this plan, ABV was invited to enter into negotiations with the Royal Government of Cambodia, for the provision of technical expertise needed to complete the project. These negotiations were again carried out by Leo Chessell, with members of ABV staff and resulted in ABV being awarded a two-year contract, the most ambitious and complex project that ABV has undertaken to date. All parties involved in this exciting project are mindful of the challenges ahead and the issues to be addressed.
According to Australian Ambassador to Cambodia, Ms. Margaret Adamson, “The Cambodian Securities Development project is well placed to make a positive contribution to supporting capacity development and improving the transparency of financial services through its support for the development of an effective regulatory framework in Cambodia”.
Following the official signing ceremony help in Phnom Penh, ABV CEO Michael Lynch said, “It is envisaged that approximately 30 volunteers will be placed in this assignment. ABV has established a steering group of eminent professionals, chaired by Mr.Ronald Sackville AO QC, to assist in maintaining the legal and legislative strength of the project”. Lynch also went on to say, “ABV look forward to continuing to work closely with the SECC to ensure a positive outcome”.
Tourism Training & Product Development with Kaysone Phomvihane Memorial Caves Office(KMPCO), Lao PDR
The Pathet Lao Revolutionary Movement used the remote Viengxay caves site in Houaphan Province as a headquarters between 1964 and 1973 in their fight against the Royal Lao Government. The area now constitutes a heritage site of major national and international significance for Lao PDR. The Lao Government has recently opened this site as part of a sustainable tourism development project. This move has in turn created employment and income opportunities for one of the poorest provinces in the country. The main income driven activity is the provision of guided tours. Local staff members conduct these tours and are responsible for the protection, conservation and improvement of a network of caves. ABV was engaged to provide tourism training and product development to KMPCO staff.
The assignment set out to improve staff member’s knowledge and skills capacity in tour guiding and tourism development to enable KPMCO to offer quality tours to visitors. Additionally the assignment set out to identify opportunities through products and services development in order to increase tourism to the area and improve customer satisfaction.
The assignment led to significant improvements in guide communication, understanding the role of the tour guide in visitor safety and duty of care, improving skill and confidence in delivering commentary, as well as operating tours for customers with individual needs and different cultural backgrounds. The Director of the KMPCO remarked during interview, “Noticeable improvement has been made during the Volunteer’s time here”. He was impressed and proud of his staff’s achievements, and more motivated to continue professional development in improving staff capacity. The collation of feedback from visitor survey forms has also indicated there is positive improvement in service delivery. Significant reported achievements from the client also indicated an increase of over 1,000 visitors per annum, which led to an increase in staff salaries by 43%.
The client was also successful in securing funding from the Australian Embassy as part of the Development Assistance Fund, to pay for shelving to properly protect and store moveable cultural heritage items from the caves.
The client and local community spoke highly of the ABV Volunteer Meg Jenkins. Her openness, cultural sensitivity, professionalism and immersion into the local culture contributed to building trusting relationships with staff and local people thus enhancing the opportunities for greater skills transfer and sustainable impact. As a result, the Volunteer and client have developed an ongoing relationship and maintain contact despite communication issues and distance.
ABV will continue its support of KMPCO as part of an ongoing program in collaboration with Deakin University and SNV Development in Lao cultural heritage development and training.
United Nations Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), Thailand
The United Nations’ Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) is a specialised UN agency. UNESCO Asia Pacific Regional Bureau for Education (UNESCO Bangkok) was established in 1961 and currently promotes international co-operation, sets standards and disseminates information in the fields of education, social sciences, culture and communication in the Asia and Pacific region. UNESCO Bangkok requested an ABV Volunteer to assist their Public Information group to improve their structure and functions and to assist them in bettering their service to public information needs and improve UNESCO’s publications.
Despite the client only scoring a rating of ‘Satisfactory’ on initial evaluations, when interviewed they revealed the level of impact the Volunteer had made during her assignment. The volunteer had the difficult task of re-interviewing the publications group and at the end of the interviews only one staff member remained. The client commented that this process was long overdue, as staff were unmotivated and had no previous publications experience. A new publications team was hired, all of whom are still working in the Public Information Group. As part of the team, the Volunteer also employed two journalists. The impact of the change in staff had a very positive impact on the whole department as the new team immediately started producing a very high standard of work. The Volunteer encouraged staff to go out and find stories and started making contacts with the Bangkok Post and other sources of media. Since the completion of the assignment UNESCO’s newsletters, feature articles and other forms of publications have significantly improved, promoting UNESCO’s activities and drawing much needed attention to the organisation.