It’s been a busy conference schedule for our new business development director Davide Castorina who presented a total of three sessions at the Perm International Forum of Volunteers 2019 in Russia last week.

At the world’s largest event on volunteering and social innovations more than 1,300 participants and experts from 15 countries – amongst them UN representatives, volunteering sector leaders, NGOs, government officials and academia – gathered to solve problems in the field of volunteerism, seeking innovative approaches and ideas. 

The forum offers a multi-component platform for exchanging experiences in implementing effective volunteer initiatives, strengthening cross-sector and inter-territorial cooperation of civil society institutions as well as developing long-term partnerships – all aligned to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

Following Davide’s attendance at the sister conference, #INFOCUS 2019 International Conference on Volunteerism and Social Transformation, back in June, he was this time invited as an expert on successful social innovations, based on Whitten & Roy Partnership’s truly transformative work across many developing countries. As such, Davide contributed to three sessions:

  1. Foresight session

Titled “Meaningful Business: Companies that are making Social Changes”, this moderated panel discussion looked at using the potential of corporate volunteering to form sustainable business relationships with local communities. Sharing personal experiences of supporting local communities in Africa, Davide incorporated historic analogies and case study comparisons in his plight for a market-based approach.

  1. Plenary Session

Watched on by over 400 attendees, Davide was the moderator and one of the five speakers presenting successful practices during the plenary session “Integration of volunteering into the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”.

Focusing solely on a market-based approach to hit the UN Sustainable Development Goals, he outlined – using examples of social impact from our work across the developing world – what this alternative to volunteerism entails, which he defined as having these three characteristics:

  1. Expanding the access to, or improving, the quality of livelihood and opportunities for the most marginalized to improve wellbeing.
  2. Addressing not only the market ‘push’ but also the market ‘pull’ for the goods or services that the most marginalised offer through identifying, strengthening or creating demand.
  3. Seeking long-term viability through resilience to shocks and external pressures, as well as independence from funding sources from outside the market system.


3. Motivational Session

Rounding off the conference was the “International Cooperation of Volunteers” best practice presentation of five selected international volunteer projects to inspire attending social enterprises, non-profits and NGOs. As such, Davide outlined Whitten & Roy Partnership’s longstanding work with Cambodia social enterprise Hydrologic, a manufacturer of kiln-fired ceramic water filters, providing clean drinking water and helping to combat diarrhea.

Having been heavily depended on donors for funding, Whitten & Roy Partnership came in to untangle this dependency by helping Hydrologic to create awareness and demand through highly personalized dialogues with the local population. Our holistic intervention (involving sales strategy, management structure, recruitment, compensation, sales tools, sales training, reporting systems, implementation strategy) drove up sales significantly.

This article in Pioneers Post by our CEO Scott Roy shares more details on Hydrologic’s success story: from NGO to successful social enterprise.

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