How A Next Generation Entrepreneur Created The World’s Best Volunteer Abroad Programs
We’re a pretty excitable bunch here at IVHQ and we’re hugely passionate about what we do. But recently we’ve had a very good reason to be even more excitable and passionate than usual, and it’s not just because of the great feedback that we’ve been receiving from IVHQers, it’s because our founder and Executive Director Dan Radcliffe has been named New Zealand’s Entrepreneur of the Year!
Dan was recognised as Young Entrepreneur of the Year back in August and then also claimed the overall prize in recognition of IVHQ’s continued success as a business that has strong social purpose and a positive impact in communities and on volunteers all over the world.
The judges said they believed Dan deserved the top award because he successfully represents the “next generation of entrepreneurs”, entrepreneurs who see the achievement of positive social outcomes being equally important as a company’s financial performance.
We’re exceedingly proud of Dan’s achievement – and we’re confident that IVHQ provides the world’s best volunteer abroad programs – over 80,000 volunteers and counting can’t be wrong. Here’s what we do that makes us different and why Dan has been considered a pioneering entrepreneur.
Believe that you can make a positive difference in the world
Dan took the plunge and founded IVHQ back in 2007 because he believed that could make a career out of doing something different from a normal 9 to 5 job. In fact, he quit his first office job after just three days and volunteered abroad as a way of figuring out what he wanted to do with his life. IVHQ was born out of Dan’s belief that volunteer travel should be made affordable and accessible to anyone who has the desire to travel to a community and make difference, and the willingness to learn about themselves in the process. IVHQ makes a positive difference to the lives of thousands of volunteers and communities every year.
Be open and transparent
IVHQ is all about being open and honest. We’ll tell you exactly how much our fees are and what our fees go towards. We’ll tell how we keep volunteers safe and how we ensure that children are always protected. This honesty is is all part of our focus on being transparent about how we operate and what we value as an organisation. IVHQ’s values are very much Dan’s values and they are part of what makes our organisation unique. Ask us anything.
Trust that local people know their communities best
Dan established IVHQ with the understanding that local organisations and local people know the needs of their communities the best. We don’t pretend to be development experts and we rely on our network of partners, who live in the communities where our volunteers work, to decide how volunteers can best support local social or conservation needs. We work collaboratively with our partners to ensure they can articulate what the local needs are and how IVHQ volunteers help them address those needs in a sustainable way. We also provide guidance to ensure they run the programs in a way which is fun and enjoyable.
Be yourself and be a little bit awesome
When you’re in contact with IVHQ, you’ll always hear from a real human. We have 25 real humans in our New Zealand office whose mission it is make sure that IVHQers have all the support that they need to have a brilliant time volunteering abroad. Dan has always challenged the IVHQrew (that’s what we call ourselves) to let our personalities shine through and inject a little bit of awesome into every interaction we have with a volunteer. It helps us to be unique and to constantly chase new and better ways of providing excellent support and service.
Dan’s recognition as a ‘next generation entrepreneur’ is proof of two things. Firstly it’s proof that if you believe you can go out there and have a profound impact on the world, and you act with integrity and honesty, then you can achieve huge things. And secondly, it’s proof that volunteering abroad can be an amazing platform for inspiration and life direction. For Dan it was truly life-changing and shaped his ambition and purpose, and we know that there are many other future social entrepreneurs amongst our IVHQers. It’s all about taking the first step.