As a relatively new philanthropy ourselves, Google.org continues to explore innovative and sustainable solutions to improving the lives and livelihoods of people in the developing world. This exploration often brings us into dialogue with many start-up social enterprises and other philanthropies trying to overcome challenges working directly with less advantaged populations. One such group, LGT Venture Philanthropy, has articulated a recurring theme: organizations with effective and innovative solutions to social and environmental problems often lack the manpower and expertise to implement these solutions in the most effective way, especially during the growth phase. They have come up with a creative solution: the iCats Program.
The iCats Program was designed to bridge the gap between philanthropic organizations or social enterprises 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.” This is how the name iCats was inspired.
iCats are professionals from all over the world with diverse professional backgrounds who are willing to share their business expertise with carefully selected philanthropic organizations and social enterprises. LGT Venture Philanthropy created a web-based platform to match experienced professionals with specific needs in trusted partner programs.
In 2009, eight fellows are working in organizations in Africa, India, and Latin America. Peter Shrimpton, CEO of Heart in Capetown notes of the iCAT program, “Your funds may have mobilized us, but it is your fellows who are optimizing our performance. If your funds are the vehicle, your fellows are the fuel.”
I wanted to share with you that applications for the 2010 iCat Program are now underway. A fellow works 11 months on-site with a portfolio organization from February to December 2010 and receives regular mentoring from the LGT Venture Philanthropy team. In addition, a 4-day induction workshop brings all fellows together in the Swiss mountains.
The fellow positions for 2010 are now online on www.icatsprogram.com. Application deadline is 26th October 2009.