What To Expect
Below are the answers to some frequently asked questions about Bankers Without Borders
Volunteering with Bankers without Borders
By donating your time, skills and expertise to strengthen organizations working to break the cycle of poverty, you can make a meaningful difference in the lives of the world’s poor. But we hope this experience will also be meaningful to you. Bankers without Borders' unique end-to-end volunteer support offerings -- from pre-recruitment project design to post-engagement professional development opportunities-- helps us earn consistently high marks from our volunteers and clients: 98% would volunteer with us again and 95% of both clients and volunteers report their projects were successful.
We vet all volunteer placement sites. We only work with social enterprises and poverty-focused organizations that are aligned with Grameen Foundation’s mission and that are capable and invested in managing volunteer consultants
Clear expectations and deliverables help to ensure projects are productive. We work with the organizations to identify challenges and opportunities where your skills are most needed and can make the greatest impact, and clear project scopes and expectations help ensure that your time is used efficiently.
We set our volunteers up for success.
- We help you prepare for your engagement and deepen your knowledge by providing self-paced online courses, educational tools and other useful resources. Login to your account to visit our Learning Center.
- We provide access to the GlobeSmart, an online tool that strengthens cross-cultural effectiveness and provides tools on how to most effectively communicate and work with stakeholders in countries around the world.
- We match new volunteers with a peer mentor- a volunteer who has already successfully completed a project with us- to answer questions and share their unique perspectives into the experience.
A community of engagement. Our volunteer engagement offerings don’t end with your project. As a member of BwB you gain access to training and professional development opportunities, receive updates on new volunteer projects that match your skills and interests and join a network of more than 16,000 professionals who share your passion for finding innovative solutions to fight global poverty.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Bankers without Borders?
Bankers without Borders, Grameen Foundation’s volunteer initiative, is a reserve corps of over 16,000 skilled professionals from a variety of countries and industries who contribute their time, skills, and experience to support microfinance institutions and other poverty focused social enterprises worldwide.
Whether working on-site or remotely, whether consulting or training, Bankers without Borders volunteers help increase the scale, sustainability, and impact of Grameen Foundation supported programs.
Do I have to be a banker to volunteer?
No. We seek all types of dedicated, skilled, and committed professionals and academics with expertise that can advance poverty focused social enterprises. This includes finance, marketing, technology, design, human resources and other disciplines. Please see current volunteer opportunities to review current skill needs.
Why would my employer support me volunteering for this type of program?
Volunteering with Bankers without Borders provides valuable skill development for high-performing employees who are destined for leadership in an organization. Participation enhances cross-cultural skills, international experience, and global perspective – factors that are critical for success in today’s world. Bankers without Borders can help your corporation make a tangible difference in the lives of the world’s poorest, while also significantly increasing your own recruitment success, productivity, and profitability.
What kind of work do volunteers do?
Projects will vary based on volunteer skills and needs of the client institutions. Assignments might include key elements of strengthening a microfinance institution’s risk management policies, internal audit and controls procedures, market research methodologies, or analysis. Assignments could also include marketing and brand management, electronic and print publications, online and new media, legal services, human resource planning, training, and leadership development.
Where will I volunteer?
Volunteers can support projects at social enterprises abroad in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Carribean, and the Middle East and North Africa, or at Grameen Foundation offices in Washington, DC and Seattle. There are also many opportunities to volunteer remotely. Each volunteer project description will indicate its location or if it is virtual.
How long is each project?
Bankers without Borders provides volunteer opportunities to fit any schedule. Projects vary from just a few hours a week to possibly weeks or months full-time, depending on the location and scope of work. Projects are structured in a way to accommodate currently employed working professionals, although opportunities exist for longer term engagements.
What do you look for in volunteers?
Typical volunteers are seasoned professionals who are committed to Grameen Foundation’s mission, vision, and values. They have technical skills and expertise appropriate for the project, and they are effective working in a consultative way. For assignments abroad, volunteers should be comfortable working in a developing country and with various cultures, religions, and traditions.
How do I volunteer?
Register with Bankers without Borders and complete your Volunteer Profile, including your availability for the volunteer opportunities of interest. Bankers without Borders will try to match your skills with the skills required for specific projects, but we also encourage you to check the current list for projects of interest. Shortlisted volunteers are interviewed and selected by project managers, who are either Grameen Foundation staff or the employees of our partner organizations.
What can I expect to gain from volunteering for Bankers without Borders?
Volunteers comment that projects have presented life-changing personal and professional growth experiences. They express a sense of achievement and of satisfaction that they have contributed time and expertise towards the larger goal of alleviating poverty.
Do I need to be fluent in the language of the country in which I am volunteering?
Not necessarily. However, there are language requirements for particular projects.
Does Grameen Foundation maintain the confidentiality of volunteers’ personal information?
Yes. We only share information with other Grameen Foundation employees and/or microfinance institutions with a project that meets your skill set.
How are volunteer assignments developed?
Grameen Foundation or a client institution will identify a project need, the volunteer’s role, project deliverables, and the expected project outcomes. This information is entered into the Bankers without Borders database so Grameen Foundation can match volunteers' skills and expertise with the project needs.
How do I know what projects are available?
You will automatically notified when projects meeting your skill set become available. All volunteer opportunities are also listed here and are updated frequently.
Can I state my preferences for a specific type of volunteer activity? (e.g. would only like to be considered for projects abroad)?
Yes. We will make every attempt to match your skills and preferences with the most appropriate project.
How much advanced notice will I have before beginning a project?
Notification schedule depends on the project. For local or virtual and remote assignments, it may be possible to engage immediately. For overseas assignments, volunteers should expect between 4 – 8 weeks of lead time from the time of selection to the start of a project.
What kind of preparation can I expect to receive from Bankers without Borders®?
Preparation varies depending on the nature and location of the assignments. All volunteers receive basic training on the microfinance industry and current issues through online courses. For on-site projects, your orientation will include more detailed topical preparation on the microfinance partner, and may include assistence with travel and living arrangements in the specific country. Volunteers prepare for their assignments through briefings with Grameen Foundation project managers, conference calls with microfinance institution managers, and support from an experienced volunteer who will act as your peer mentor.
What, if any, are the costs associated with being a volunteer?
Many employeers choose to cover travel and living expenses while employees are on a short-term volunteer assignment. Your BwB project manager will establish a budget for each project activity, and volunteers will be given the opportunity to contribute to a portion of the project costs. Grameen Foundation may also cover costs such as visa fees, airfare, hotel lodging, or per diem expenses for a given project activity when funds permit. This will be clearly indicated during the interview process for a project.
What about my travel and living arrangements?
Travel and lodging are coordinated by Grameen Foundation.
Should I still apply if I do not see my skill listed?
Yes. We keep volunteer information on file for future project opportunities. Please complete our online application so we can notify you when opportunities become available that match your skills and interest.
Is it safe for me to travel abroad to volunteer locations?
We make every attempt to ensure your safety on a volunteer assignment. Grameen Foundation monitors the risk of travel to destination countries and maintains active contact with volunteers throughout overseas assignments. Grameen Foundation will also provide emergency medical evacuation insurance.
I want to help but I don't know anything about microfinance.
Bankers without Borders Learning Center now offers an online webinar series designed to acquaint volunteers with microfinance. The free series features guest speakers and presentations on a variety of topics, from introduction to Microfinance and the Grameen Foundation to current regional trends and challenges. Register to become a volunteer and receive webinar notifications. Additional information about microfinance is available in Bankers without Borders resource library.
How else I can fight global poverty and support Grameen Foundation?
Sign up for our e-Newsletter to stay up-to-date and spread the word about microfinance to your friends and family. Donate now on our website, or host a fundraiser to raise money to alleviate poverty.