Volunteer Spotlight: World, Meet WISE!
Laeba shares her experience volunteering as a Communications Advisor with the Women’s Initiative for Startups and Entrepreneurship (WISE) in Hanoi, Vietnam toward their goal of showcasing their important work to a global audience.
Vietnam, a country known for its vast history and serene landscapes, is also a country that is committed to bettering equality, opportunities and livelihoods for all. Laeba is a recent graduate from the University of Waterloo, where she studied International Development and Political Science. As part of her academic requirements, Laeba had to complete a hands-on placement in global development. She decided to apply to become a WUSC international volunteer in Vietnam and was successfully chosen. This opportunity allowed Laeba to utilize her international development learnings, tools and techniques that she acquired throughout her studies and apply them to real-life situations.
Laeba was partnered with the Women’s Initiative for Startups and Entrepreneurship (WISE) in Hanoi, Vietnam, where she worked as the Communications Officer for eight months. In collaboration with the WISE Communication Manager, Laeba co-developed a communications strategy for WISE that would showcase their work to a global audience. By supporting the team to create new social media accounts and launch an accessible website in English, Laeba and the WISE communications team were able to expand the organization’s online presence, and increase their engagement and interactions globally – all within the first 30 days of her assignment!
The new communications strategy provides a guide for WISE to effectively highlight the numerous projects the organization has across Vietnam that help women build their business skills and knowledge. The new communications strategy reflects the unique combination of skills and experience shared between Laeba and her counterparts at WISE. The WISE communications brought a deep understanding of their organization’s mission and capabilities while Laeba was able to offer a unique perspective into the communication needs of a more global audience in Canada. The end result is a strategy that acts as a guide for WISE to effectively highlight the numerous projects they have implemented across Vietnam.
WISE is predominantly focused on gender development across Vietnam and specifically, in the Mekong region. The organization supports women entrepreneurs by teaching them business skills and knowledge, breaking down gender norms and stereotypes, and connecting women to investors and mentors. Through this work, women who are often neglected are empowered and supported all over the country.
WISE and their volunteers, like Laeba, recognize the importance of gender equality and how breaking down gender barriers leads to greater improvements in society.
“Women’s full participation in the public sphere is essential to creating a robust society and building a sustainable future for any country. Women have immense potential to make positive contributions to their societies and communities but need access to equitable programs, opportunities and support services.” – Laeba
Through Laeba’s collaboration on a new communication strategy, and the ongoing programs that WISE delivers across Vietnam, strides to break down gender stereotypes and barriers are being made in significant waves. Not only was Laeba able to support WISE in creating positive change in Vietnam, this opportunity opened up doors into the international development sector for her own personal professional growth. Through the mentorship of the Communications Manager and the CEO of WISE, Laeba was able to learn what it’s like to work in a fast-paced non-profit environment that supports women entrepreneurship.
“I could not have had a successful assignment without the support of the WISE and WUSC team in Vietnam […] I am forever grateful for this opportunity and hope to continue my work in this field!” – Laeba
Laeba’s volunteer assignment was made possible through IGNI+E, a multi-year, multi-country initiative funded by Global Affairs Canada to improve economic opportunities for youth. View our current volunteer opportunities here.