Create an Organizational Strategy

The project was aimed to help the NGO plan long term goals in terms of employees, budgets and programs.
Zorawar Singh
Revenue Analyst - Sr Manager, Vistara
Delhi, India

Currently working as a Revenue Analyst for Vistara (TATA SIA Airlines Limited), Zorawar manages the team responsible for optimising revenue for the company, including managing of flights, inventory and pricing. It is majorly a strategic role, where short term strategies are worked upon and plugged with a long term strategy. He has been working on this role since January 2015, since inception of operations in the company. Zorawar had previous on-site volunteering experience with FIAPO, an animal-aid NGO based in Udaipur where he regularly visited the NGO to spend time and help with daily activities. Ever since, he has been wanting to learn new things and use his skills, for which he saw this as a perfect opportunity. It was when COVID hit, that Zorawar’s interest sparked up again and he wanted to use his time resourcefully. As he was always driven by strategy, he had applied to about 3 projects on the same lines and got shortlisted for this one at ProEngage. The best part about this to him was that everything was online and he thought it was a great opportunity to give back to society.

Sidika Anand
Senior Consultant, Deloitte
Gurgaon, India

Sidika holds the responsibilities of a senior consultant at Deloitte which include assisting with drafting strategies, designing solutions using established processes, and contributing to client satisfaction. Her current work has no resemblance with the project she worked on at MaWa. Prior to this project, Sidika had no experience with volunteering, especially skill based volunteering. Sidika had initially come across the ProEngage program in June of 2020 but couldn't apply due to the professional workload she was facing. Lucky for her, since this is a biannual program, the opportunity struck her again. Her idea behind signing up for this project was to be able to put all the skills she has garnered over the years to contribute to the society but not in just a monetary manner, but by creating an impact in someone’s life. What stood out for Sidika in the entirety of the program is that, while all NGOs usually concentrate on raising funds, it was interesting to see that the NGOs here were genuinely trying to better themselves - the whole concept was super impressive!

Makutano ya Wajasiriamali
Simeon Mihinga, Project Coordinator
Mbeya, Tanzania

Makutano ya Wajasiriamali is Non-Profit Organization registered under the Tanzanian NGO laws. The organisation deals with promoting development of marginalized entrepreneurs through skills training, empowerment, innovation and consultancy on entrepreneurial development activities. As the unemployment crisis is huge in Tanzania, this NGO primarily focuses on training students, people who lack skills to self employ and varied sectors from small to large. They also locally promote livelihood vocational training based on entrepreneurship programs.


Project Execution

Although Makutano ya Wajasiriamali has been providing continued support locally, Chezuba is the first outside platform that they’ve seeked volunteers from. As believers of traditional and onsite volunteering, it is only through the platform they’ve learnt how outside volunteering can be helpful for them. Simeon says - “As a young organisation, we do not have much experience making strategies in order to increase our growth chart. It is always better for my organisation to grow, for which strategy is needed. Through this project, we wanted to plan long term goals like, the number of employees we will need to run the organisation, how much funds need to be sourced for smooth running of the organisation, what programs can be executed, etc.  Summing it up, I was looking for a professionally advised dIrection to run my activities and use this document to reach out to potential donors.”

Simeon had started work with two volunteers, Zorawar and Sidika respectively. Before reaching out to the NGO, the volunteers needed to understand if they were on the same page, for which they had set up a call to understand why they'd both chosen this project in particular. They discussed the key aspects of the material the NGO had shared with them immediately post match which they both thought was extremely well-structured and actually took them by surprise since it wasn’t exactly what they had in mind while taking up a volunteer role. They assumed that the NGO won't be as organised and as fast as corporates. Sidika said “We had to go through a module which TATA sent through which we understood that there would be a lot of ambiguity. We were warned that we are working with remote NGOs so requirements may not be clear and communication may not be great, but Simeon did so much with the little workforce he had. We were going to be dealing with a different geography, market, people and culture. I had a lot of apprehensions about the right things to say and what would be taken offensive. Simeon bridged the gap beautifully as we didn't know the landscape or environment around Tanzania. It was the first call when Simeon came on and Zorawar was there, it didn't feel like we were interacting with somebody across the world, instead the atmosphere was very comfortable. Simeon is a very amicable person and affable in nature. He gave us a warm welcome. He was very clear about what he wanted. He sent us two documents - one about the organisation and other was the areas he wanted us to focus on. The title of the project upon first glance, was broad. Like an organizational strategy is a lot of things but he had very articulately stated 5 specific points he wanted us to work on. Very clear, very focused. That's something that really helped us from the beginning. We felt like we were partially working in a corporate setting.”

They had connected over WhatsApp and used the roadmap provided by Chezuba to track the progress of the project. The first meeting involved discussing the deliverables of the project and all three of them agreed upon which points need to be ironed out. After which, the volunteers started off with understanding the data provided by the NGO and consulting different sources for inputs. The engagement was mutual between Simeon and the volunteers, as Simeon was also assigned some tasks to do like, letting the volunteers know what content he regularly teaches in entrepreneurship programs, based on which assessment tools were prepared. They initially had weekly meetings, but once they got a hang of the project, they met fortnightly and so on. Both the volunteers said there was freedom to propose what they wanted hence, they would all have a constructive discussion and only then move forward with any decision.

Challenges faced

With everything having been put down crystal clear by Simeon, the only challenge the volunteers think that came up was to manage between the project and their regular jobs, it obviously got difficult to pace at a point. There were instances when one couldn’t devote time when they had a busy week. Someone or the other wasn’t available for a few meetings. The motto that led them to get the better of these challenges is - If a team has trust among one another, you can overcome it.

Unfortunately for them, Sidika had to drop out midway toward the second deliverable of the project as her family was affected by COVID. That didn’t stop any of them from giving up on the project although there was ambiguity that led to some confusion. Instead, Zorawar had put in the extra hours to compensate for Sidika’s absence. Sidika was so motivated to work on the project that she eventually came back and when asked the reason why, she said she always wanted to work with this project as it was very interesting. When she came back and asked Zorawar about the status of the project, she was immensely surprised to hear he almost completed the project by himself. She was just eager to help, that was when they had a 3 hour call with the NGO when Simeon said he could use some additional training material. She asked Zorawar that she wanted to work independently on these deliverables to make up for her absence. According to her, this was the highest point in the project for her as Simeon was thrilled to receive this document and said this is exactly what he was looking for. “The first instance reaction was heartwarming for me”, she said.

On a personal note, Sidika quoted “The project clarity was great but some deliverables lacked clarity.  We understand most NGOs do not run with many resources. The geography is different, the schooling system was different compared to ours. Understanding some of the terminology differences between them and us was difficult but research helped with all of that. Simeon was there so that was perfect. I am sure we bothered him a lot every other weekend with how things worked. Me dropping out would have been a challenge for both of them, but the team was so supportive. Of course, all's well that ends well. It all wrapped up as a beautiful gift.”

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Simeon was beyond thrilled to speak about the outcome of his project and when asked if he had a message to give to his volunteers, he said “Thank you to the volunteers who have worked with me. I am indebted to their encouragement they have continuously provided to me throughout the project, the constant hard work and communication they’ve maintained. It was very good for myself and my organisation. This was my first time working with Tata volunteers. They have been very good to me, to the point that I can stay in touch, talk, discuss and laugh with them without any problems. It is the kind of volunteering anyone would appreciate in the organisation, for the volunteer to get to know people across the world and is definitely good for TATA as well for their volunteers to have a good experience.”

Simeon thinks that the impact this project has caused to his organisation and the beneficiaries is quite great. The final document and the entire project in itself has instilled a great depth of confidence in Simeon, as he says he can now speak and move without having to worry about lack of definition as he’s become more structured and organised. This Organizational Strategy will be used to create a timetable for annual activities like, when to fundraise, host webinars, conduct workshops etc., he added.

When asked about what is it that kept Zorawar to continue working on the project despite his hectic schedule and if he ever had a thought of dropping out, he said “My intent always was to learn something new and if I gave up midway, mylearning would be hindered. Also, having a positive experience with the NGO right from the beginning, with Simeon being so friendly all along, I just couldn't give up.” Additionally, his take on volunteering is that - ”Projects make you a bit more patient. You tend to feel more connected to the outside world. Normally when you work, it's very static on a regular basis. We all want to contribute to society but we don't have the time or means to do it but through this program, I felt more encouraged to try new things.” 

Sidika had only good things to say about her co-volunteer. She said “Zorawar has been an absolute delight to work with.  It was important to have a co-volunteer who's equally passionate as you. We worked on Sundays too. When I was away, I felt like I was betraying the project but the work he put in alone was absolutely amazing. It was, in fact, commendable. He really uplifted the project. He was concerned about the NGO facing the delay so he just took it upon himself and beautifully executed it.”
Summing up her impression on volunteering in general is "You create so tangible out of something so intangible through these projects. You are creating an impact, making the world a better place for somebody. Your contribution is the first flutter of the wing of a butterfly.”