Frequently Asked Questions

 

What is Accion looking for in an ideal Ambassador candidate?

There is no one ideal candidate. Because our partners have varying operations and programmatic needs, the skills that we are looking for vary greatly. All candidates should have strong writing skills, be social media savvy, be and eager to share their experiences in the field. All candidates should also be culturally sensitive, flexible, motivated, and resourceful. These positions can sometimes lack structure and Ambassadors should be ready for a challenge and be willing to make the best of their experiences. All Ambassadors must be able to attend the mandatory orientation prior to deployment.

What is the application procedure?

Candidates should apply online using the link on the Ambassadors page or through the Jobs & Internships page on the Accion website. Short-listed candidates will be contacted for a phone interview and may be asked to submit additional materials, to interview with our program partners, and/ or to test for language proficiency. Our partners have final admission authority, based on the recommendations of the admissions teams. Selected candidates will receive an offer letter and agreement by email.

Do I have to start my assignment immediately after orientation?

No. The start date of your assignment will depend on your availability and that of the host institution. Even though, ideally, all assignments should take place during the summer, past Ambassadors have deployed later in the summer and into the fall.

Do I need to speak a foreign language?

All Ambassadors must be able to communicate fluently in English and in the language in which the partner institution conducts its business. In Latin America, all partners conduct their business in Spanish, and therefore Spanish fluency is a firm requirement. In parts of India and Africa, English is the language in which business in conducted, and for those placements, beginner/intermediate local languages are an asset, but not required. Placements in Francophone Africa require fluency in French, and fluent Hindi is required for one of our partners in Northern India.

Where do Ambassadors go?

The partner institutions we work with have varied slightly from year to year and are also very diverse in terms of their operations, locations, and needs. Our current list of partners includes non-profit and for-profit MFIs, portfolio companies of our impact investment initiatives, and some of our own programs. Past partners have included:

  • Banco Ademi, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
  • Compartamos Banco, Mexico City, Mexico
  • Fundación Paraguaya, Asunción, Paraguay
  • Financiera El Comercio, Asunción, Paraguay
  • Génesis Empresarial, Guatemala
  • Swadhaar FinServe Private Limited, Mumbai, Inida
  • Swadhaar FinAccess, Mumbai, India
  • Saija Finance Private Limited, Bihar, India
  • Accion’s Dialogue on Business Program, Bangalore, India
  • Vindhya InfoMedia, Bangalore, India
  • Zoona (formerly Mobile Transactions Zambia Limited), Lusaka, Zambia
  • Akiba Commercial Bank, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
  • Accion Microfinance Bank (Accion MfB), Lagos, Nigeria
  • Accion East, New York City

What services and benefits does Accion provide to its Ambassadors?

We provide each candidate with an orientation session and emergency medical insurance to be used during the entire length of the Ambassadors’ placement abroad. We also support volunteers throughout the deployment process, assisting with work plans, communication with partners, and providing feedback and critique on blog posts. Often, in-country work-related travel is covered by host partners.

How long is an Ambassador placement?

Ambassadors must be able to commit to at least a two-week placement. However, placements vary depending on partner needs and Ambassador availability. Longer placements of up to more than three months are sometimes available.

What about medical insurance?

Ambassadors should all carry appropriate medical coverage in their countries of residence to ensure that any medical issue that may arise while serving as an Accion Ambassador can be treated adequately upon return.

What does a typical day look like for an Ambassador?

Each placement will differ dramatically, as our partners themselves have varying needs and operations. Some placements will have a high concentration of office work, while others are field-based, with visits to clients, trainings, and other business locations. We work hard to ensure that Ambassadors are placed at institutions where the roles they fill fit with their skill sets and personal interests.

Where will I live during my placement?

We are not able to provide, or even assist with, lodging arrangements for Ambassadors while they are in the field. It is entirely up to each Ambassador to research and secure his or her own housing. We will share contacts and resources that we are aware of to assist in this process. Past housing situations have included shared apartments, hostels, and volunteer housing (provided only at Fundación Paraguaya).

What kind of visa will I need?

Visa requirement vary greatly by country. It is each Ambassador’s responsibility to research and apply for the appropriate visa. We usually recommend that Ambassadors apply for tourist visas as the work being done is noncompensated, volunteer work.

What vaccinations should I get?

Vaccinations also vary greatly by the destination as well as individual medical history. It is each Ambassador’s responsibility to research and to obtain the appropriate vaccines for his or her particular travel.

What should I pack?

Ambassadors are responsible for their own preparation for their time in the field. All Ambassadors are required to have their own laptop and camera for use during their placements to document and share their experience, as well as to reduce the administrative burden placed on our partners.

Can Accion help fund my Ambassadors experience?

At this time, we are unable to offer financial support to participants in our Ambassadors Program. We are happy to provide letters and documentation that would support applications to other funding sources. Many graduate schools offer funding for students and past volunteers have also used online crowd-funding resources as well. In some very limited cases, there are small stipends available for certain roles. The availability of these is shared during the selection process.

How much will it cost me to participate as an Ambassador?

Ambassador placement cities/locations vary greatly in their costs of living, and Ambassadors themselves have varying levels of comfort for which they are willing to pay, making the total cost of the program very difficult to estimate for everyone. Ambassadors are responsible for all expenses associated with their placement and should research what the cost will likely be for their particular experience.