How She Does It: Ann Davis of Venture with Impact

Entrepreneur Ann Davis
Many professionals have a global outlook and wish to be engaged in solving worldwide problems.  These professionals are torn between having a career that works towards the social good and one that provides financial security. 

Venture with Impact provides an opportunity for professionals to  live abroad for one or two months and acquire experience working with a local NGO or social business, while keeping their jobs in the United States.

Venture with Impact organizes accommodation, workspace, and pro-bono opportunities for a group of professionals that live in different countries for a minimum of one month.  In each location participants work remotely for their jobs in the United States or their home country in a workspace provided by Venture with Impact.  During their free time participants are matched to a project with a partner organization, which aligns with their professional skills, interests and work schedule.  Their work with the local organization allows them to form relationships and build professional experiences in the process.

Deb Bailey: Hello, Ann. Thanks for stopping by. How did you get started as an entrepreneur?

Ann Davis: There are many reasons I decided to start Venture with Impact, but without my experience undergoing my cancer diagnosis (anaplastic astrocytoma, a form of brain cancer) and treatment, I'm not sure that I would have had the confidence and gusto to take the risk! 

I discovered my tumor while on a run one day with friends in New Orleans, where I was living and working at the time.  I was teaching via the Teach For America program, and it was a fairly stressful time in my life.  While running, I felt an electric shock run up the side of my leg, like I had stuck my foot into a toaster.  Next thing I knew I was on the ground undergoing a gran mal seizure. 

During and after my treatment, I  began to ask myself many questions about my future.  These questions included:  What are my passions?  What is holding back from pursuing these passions and dreams?

venture with impact

Deb: What inspires you to do the work you do?

Ann: The mission of our organization is to expose professionals to new cultures, ideas, and people so that they can become both more empathetic and global citizens. For Venture with Impact, Venturers will form a community with participants in the program, who they live and travel with, and they will also build a community made up of their non-profit organization and the locals that they volunteer with.  

The communities each of our participants form is incredibly different than their environment back home.  By bringing people out of their comfort zone and into new living and working environments allows for such positive change.  For me, it's incredibly rewarding to see the personal and professional growth that each of our participants undergoes over just a month or two.

For example in last month's Colombian program, we had a married couple that fell in love with Medellín, and by the end of the trip were set on adopting from the country.  Additionally, we had a lawyer, who after thoroughly studying international human rights law and teaching workshops to local NGO staff, has decided he would like to make international human rights a part of his future work.

venture with impact business

Deb: What's your vision for your business?

Ann: Although we a very new business, thus far we have run 6 months of programming, in both Trujillo, Peru and Medellin Colombia, with almost 40 participants.  In 2018, we are planning to expand to two additional locations - Thailand and Portugal.  Long term we plan to have multiple programs running simultaneously all around the world. 

To date we've had a great variety of professionals who have worked on a number of projects.  Professionals with backgrounds in business and marketing have helped local women's collectives to price and package their products; physical therapists have taught workshops and exchanged knowledge with local doctors, tech professionals have built websites for local partners, and many more.

Although all of our Venturers have had permission from their employers to work remotely and participate in a VWI program, in the future I would like for VWI to partner with companies.  My long term vision is that companies around the world will be encouraging and sponsoring their employees to participate in Venture with Impact programs and it becomes part of their organization's professional development program.

Deb: What advice would you give to women entrepreneurs who are just starting out?

-    My business hasn't been successful so far because I have done it alone
-    I have received help from friends and family as well as people I did not know prior to starting, because they were interested in VWI
-    I am not afraid to ask for help, receive feedback and accept criticism - this is vital for success

I've heard that women entrepreneurs are often times more successful longer term because of the strong relationships they are able to develop. Relationships blossom and develop when you ask for help.

venture with impact

Deb: What do you wish you could tell your younger self?

Ann: I would give myself the same advice that I tell myself today - at the end of your life you don't want to have regrets about the things that you didn't do. What stops me from doing the things that I want to do is fear, and fear of failure, but failure is part of living life to its fullest. 
We are so afraid of failure and what others think…but most people don't spend time thinking about what that you failed at. If you succeed, it's something that they notice.

Deb: Thanks for stopping by, Ann. Please share website and social media URLs.

Ann: I enjoyed it, Deb. Here are the links.


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