VEGA Welcomes its Newest Member, VSO!

By , Promoting Prosperity Worldwide

The Volunteers for Economic Growth Alliance (VEGA) is pleased to welcome VSO International with its deep experience and sterling reputation as a leading international development organization that works through volunteers to fight poverty in some of the world’s poorest countries. Established in the UK in 1958, VSO is a not-for-profit organization that today operates globally across 8 regional hubs located in Bangkok, Delhi, Pretoria, Nairobi, Washington, Utrecht, Dublin and Kingston UK.

VSO delivers high impact development programs in 24 countries in Africa, Asia, and the Pacific focused in the sectors of health, education and livelihoods with core approaches in social inclusion and gender, social accountability and resilience. VSO provides technical assistance to communities, local nongovernmental organizations, host-country government agencies, and policymakers through a network of global staff and highly skilled specialized volunteers.

VSO Volunteering Model

VSO’s unique relational volunteering model provides the essential pre-conditions for systemic and sustainable change. Through volunteers, VSO is able to reach some of the world’s most rural and marginalized communities which other development organizations can’t reach.

It promotes different relationship dynamics between volunteers and partners that empower the poorest and most marginalized people to actively lead in their own development. It fosters trust to create equitable, resilient and inclusive solutions and ultimately delivering outcomes that are more sustainable, more locally appropriate, more inclusive and more interconnected.

VSO’s Impact

VSO’s programs improve incomes for young people by increasing their employability through education and vocational training. VSO works with businesses to create jobs and increase sustainable employment opportunities for young people, resulting in higher incomes. VSO also works to improve access to financial services for farming communities, providing better market access for marginalized farmers, improving farmers’ bargaining power and increasing yields. This supports the livelihoods of farming communities and helps smallholder farmers increase quality of produce and access to markets.

Volunteering for Development

Volunteers are central to VSO’s work, enabling them to reach some of the world’s most rural and marginalised communities which other development organisations cannot.

Since its founding, VSO has worked with over 76,000 volunteers in over 120 countries.

In 2017, VSO and partners reached 2.4 million people through its programs  with the help of over 7,000 volunteers. Here are some additional statistics from 2017:

From VSO’s 2016-17 Annual Report.

Types of volunteers

VSO operates through a demand-driven global network of volunteers that is based on local needs and designed to tackle complex development challenges. It has the capacity to source a broad range of highly skilled expertise at different levels to facilitate systemic and meaningful change. Volunteers work as effective trainers, advisors, coaches and mentors. It’s diverse set of volunteering approaches that includes short and long-term, highly skilled and youth volunteers, south-to-south and national volunteering and parliamentary volunteering. Its volunteer approach helps foster sustainability so the results achieved relative to investments continue well beyond the lifespan of a project.

Longer term volunteers work as external and independent catalysts, increasing VSO’s partners’ capacity to work more strategically with other actors in markets or eco-systems, to develop new and innovative approaches, evolving new programming and more inclusive business models to create more equitable and fair employment opportunities.

Short term and corporate volunteers with very specific skills complement longer term volunteers to set up new systems or review certain functions. Short term volunteers may work in conjunction with a strategic partner to support poverty vulnerability assessments or market assessments.

Corporate volunteers

VSO also partners with corporations such as Randstand, IBM, Citi and Syngenta to send their employees to share their skills to fight poverty and enhance resilience. These include short- to long-term volunteer assignments, sharing a range of expertise from mentoring entrepreneurs on innovation to working across supply chains to increasing the incomes of smallholder farmers. Visit VSO’s website to learn more about Knowledge Exchange, their corporate employee volunteering program, and other private sector engagement.

Read more about why VSO works through volunteers by clicking here.

Learn more about VSO’s award-winning volunteers.

VSO’s partners

VSO’s reach is extensive, with more than 400 partner organizations working in the fields of education, health and livelihoods to deliver programs for the poor and marginalized. They have been invited by national governments and have established agreements within each of the countries where they operate, and also have regional partnerships, such as with the African Union. It receives support from long-standing relationships with bilateral and multilateral donors, corporate partners and an individual donor base.

VSO partners with the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) to implement the International Citizens Service (ICS), a program that sees young British volunteers aged 18-25 undertake 10-12 week volunteer placements overseas in developing countries, alongside young counterpart volunteers from within the placement countries.

The UK invests a great deal in leveraging volunteers in their development programming worldwide. In 2017, VSO partnered with DFID on programs worth 45.54 million pounds, the fifth largest investment in any partner by DFID.


Last year, VSO’s income totalled £78 million sourced from: DFID ICS contract, UK DfID grant, other governmental income, Public donations, other donations and companies. Sixty-one (61%) percent of our funding was spread across health, education and livelihood programmes.

VSO International is a great fit for VEGA, having brought thousands of people together to generate insights, ideas and, above all, action on poverty and exclusion.