Skilled Impact, skills-based volunteering abroad in India including professional placement, internships and medical electives.

Skilled Impact

About

We are a socially responsible volunteer organisation with a difference - offering skilled volunteer placements in India that have a long term impact. Our placements, internships and electives provide individuals with the opportunity to share their skills and work alongside local organisations that are making an impact in their communities. As a Skilled Impact volunteer you will embark on a unique adventure - you won't be a tourist, but experiencing life a local, whilst staying in the fastest growing city in India. You'll have the opportunity to develop your cross cultural working and problem solving skills and gain practical experience to help you with your career development. This is not just a one off experience, the impact on others and yourself will last long after your placement. Are you ready to take take on a new challenge and do something different?

Founded
2017
Headquarters

1 Hillcroome Rd
Sutton
Surrey
SM2 5EL
United Kingdom

Reviews

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Kirsty
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Skilled Impact provided us with so much support from the beginning until the end of the placement. Help was provided with logistical things such as taking us from
the airport to the accommodation as well as in helping us develop a cultural understanding of the city and providing information about travelling opportunities. For example, after a recommendation from Anna, the other volunteers and I travelled to Hampi, Karnataka for a weekend break where we got to see a range of different temples and monkeys. Similarly, if any minor issues arose from the placement, we all felt very comfortable to contact Skilled Impact, who were more than happy to provide any advice and supported us in finding solutions. The ability to tailor both the work placement and the leisure time to my own interests during the stay helped me to achieve as much as I could during my seemingly short month-long stay in Hyderabad.

What would you improve about this program?
Greater scope to tailor the internship to skills/ interests of the participants
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Livia
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Volunteering with Skilled Impact was a very enriching experience that I would warmly recommend to anyone looking for a way to support positive change in society. During one month, I worked for the partner organization Surge Impact, helping them to develop a digital marketing strategy. One month is only a short time and I would have stayed longer if I could, but it was one intense month during which I learned a lot. Working in a startup environment with Surge Impact's great team is an incredible opportunity to learn more about social entrepreneurship while actually contributing to it. Also, many of my friends and family thought I was crazy to go to India on my own as a girl, but I did not feel unsafe for a single moment. Hyderabad is a nice city to live in and the people from Skilled and Surge Impact (and the other locals) are very friendly and supportive. Volunteering here is a great way to help in an impactful organization while fully experiencing the Indian culture and developing yourself.

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Joshua
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

After completing a three-month Rural teaching fellowship through Skilled Impact, I stayed on to do their Social Entrepreneurship placement in Hyderabad. Having recently finished a conceptual degree programme the placement was the perfect way to move away from abstract learning and into the very real and fast-paced social entrepreneurial world.
The dynamic nature of business accelerators and the friendliness of the organisation made for an extremely flexible and continuously changing placement that gave me the opportunity to work in many areas depending on my interests or skillsets.
The organisation has an active presence in India’s social entrepreneurial community and involves itself in conferences, networking events and other groups which is very exciting to be part of and means you’re not confined to an office. During my placement I found myself on a four-day trip to India’s West coast for a Women’s entrepreneurs conference which was very interesting.
Having come straight out of University and with little knowledge of the space I came away with a much greater understanding of social entrepreneurship and its potential for social change. This, along with a number of transferable skills and an enhanced CV.
I found Hyderabad to be a modern and vibrant city with a huge amount going on. There are countless workshops, meet-ups, sport clubs and social groups to join and a vast natural India to explore beyond Hyderabad. Skilled Impact was a supportive and professional organisation and particularly good at settling me into Hyderabad and connecting me with people or organisations that I may find interesting.

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Joseph
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

This was an incredible experience, enhanced by the organisers' enthusiasm and knowledge. The activities were great and I thoroughly recommend it to any school group visisting the area as it allows the students to discver the culture, ways of life and issues while at the same time being able to visit the area and discover India. The town itself and the accomodations were amazing, and coming from France the environment could not have been different, so I really appreciate this program which made my first trip to India a memorable one!

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Ursule
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My first visit to India was made so much more interesting by this program that introduced us straight away to some of the history, traditions and customs of the country. It was overall very enriching to learn about social issues but also what is being done about them. The staff was very welcoming, while the overall experience was very enjoyable and memorable. I would definitely recommend it to any students or visitors eager to discover India.

Programs

Displaying 1 - 7 of 7

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Bella Buchmann

Job Title
Program Manager
woman sitting on colorful stairs

Bella wanted to be the first female Chancellor of Germany when she was 12. Angela Merkel came first.

Then, Bella wanted to be the first female Formula-1 driver who is as successful as Michael Schumacher. Let's say driving simply isn't her strength.

Whilst Bella moved on from her childhood dreams, the notion of being a change maker and doing something with impact never left her. She went to live with a host family in Australia at age 16, and wouldn't return to live in Germany until a decade later.

Since then she has finished her schooling in Australia, completed a Bachelor in Edinburgh, Scotland, mastered a Master in London, volunteered in Kenya, and worked with volunteer groups in Brazil and India.

Now she is back to support her passion - social enterprise - through responsible volunteer placements in India.

What is your favorite travel memory?

When I travel, I love connecting with the local people. That's how you truly experience the spirit of a country. I remember a site visit we did in India, Tamil Nadu. We worked with a women's group who produced spirulina to make a livelihood and provide nutrition to children in the surrounding schools. Whilst I was waiting for the volunteers to finish up their meeting, one of the women took me by the hand and led me to her house.

She didn't speak a word of English, and I have to admit that my Tamil is rather rusty. She showed me her house, her animals and her plot. Afterwards, she placed me on the only chair inside the house and warmed up some milk. And there we sat, for a good 20 minutes, sipping hot milk, watching TV together.

Somehow we connected, without words. She smiled at me and gave me a massive hug when we went back to the group.

Her warm welcome and hospitality really touched me, and I realized that this is why I do what I do. Because you connect with people, and you impact their lives in a positive way, no matter how small that impact is.

How have you changed/grown since working for your current company?

Massively. Working in a start-up is a truly challenging, yet rewarding experience. You get to take charge of projects and test out your ideas without having to go through hierarchies. At the same time, you take responsibility for the success of your projects. This work has really pushed me to learn and grow.

The other aspect that really strikes me is the fine line that a social enterprise is walking on. You always have to find the balance between being a business and concentrating on sales and marketing and the volunteer experience. However, it is crucial to not forget your core values and impact you want to make -- and serving the local change makers who we partner with. And that's what I really admire about Skilled Impact. I think we are managing to really hit that balance.

What is the best story you've heard from a return student?

Our programs are all about sharing skills and learning together. So my favorite story must be of a TEFL-qualified volunteer who completed an English Teaching placement in rural India. For three months, he stayed at the boy's school and taught English classes.

In his final reflection, he spoke about how this experience has helped him overcome his fear of public speaking. When we spoke to the boys, all of his pupils pointed out that they really appreciate how his teaching style would make them feel safe and confident in their own abilities. They now speak up actively in class, and don't mind presenting in front of groups.

Just hearing about how the volunteer and the beneficiaries grew and learn together to overcome the same fear was amazing!

If you could go on any program that your company offers, which one would you choose and why?

I am passionate about social entrepreneurship, so the Social Entrepreneurship Internship must be my favorite.

But we have more placements coming out that focus on supporting social entrepreneurs. Out of them, I'd love to complete the product design internship. I love interior design and I sew some of my own clothes. So working with local artisans and using their craftsmanship to design contemporary products would be such an inspiration - and fun! Unfortunately, I don't have the necessary skills required, so I guess I will leave this placement for a skilled volunteer to take up.

What makes your company unique? When were you especially proud of your team?

From my perspective, it is our values and the way we prescribe ourselves to them that makes Skilled Impact truly special. With us, you can't simply put a volunteer experience in a basket and purchase it.

We are dedicated to finding the best volunteer with the right skills to support a local change-maker/organization expand their work and impact. So we vet volunteers and partners and make sure that both of them have a rewarding experience. I haven't seen another volunteer organization that has prescribed itself to responsible and impactful volunteering as we do.

What do you believe to be the biggest factor in being a successful company?

I think there are two things that make us successful:

  • We stick with our values. We say we are a responsible volunteer organization, so we are being a responsible volunteer organization. Even if it loses us sales. Each and every one of our team members is passionate about making volunteering sustainable and impactful, and I think it shows up in our work and with the volunteers.
  • We treat our local partner as equals and give them most of the decision power. All our placements are responding to an organizational need that a partner has expressed to us. Together we work out the job description to make sure that the role is complementary to the team, rather than replacing local staff. They can decide on the necessary skills, and on the time frame. We are therefore responding to a local need expressed by the community, rather than creating placements to get volunteers to come out even though no support is needed.