Ernst & Young (E&Y) helps to improve social conditions in the developing world
Through the Corporate Responsibility Fellows program, Ernst & Young is dedicating its best resources – talented, experienced people – to improving the success of promising entrepreneurs in underserved communities, to help create scalable sustainable economic value.
The firm sends five employees per year on three-month assignments to provide skills-based technical service to entrepreneurs at small- to medium-size companies in underserved communities in the Americas. Based on the belief that entrepreneurship has historically created economic opportunities and increased living standards, the program assists promising entrepreneurs in their efforts to create sustainable economic value. It utilizes fellows’ workplace skills — in accounting, tax, audit, IT, and project management — for volunteer “advisory” projects that offer technical assistance to entrepreneurial companies.
To maximize the impact on the wider entrepreneur communities, the CR Fellows also participate in regional knowledge-sharing conferences to benefit a greater number of local entrepreneurs and business leaders.The fellows are chosen from an applicant pool of high-performing employees who are at the manager level and above and have been with the company usually for five to seven years. By helping local entrepreneurs with their most pressing business problems — typically providing help that they couldn’t otherwise afford — Ernst & Young hopes to bolster their business and build relationships in these growing markets.
While E&Y’s fellows program leverages the skills of its professionals, the company’s business motivations follow the more general goals of corporate citizenship, employee morale, and local community relations. “Our volunteering abroad allows us to add a human face to our work,” explains Maria Pena of E&Y, citing the program’s expanded “license to operate.” Recent projects included developing a human resource strategy for a business in Uruguay that provides road accident prevention and risk management services, and organizing the financial records for a Chilean company that makes reusable shopping bags. To date, 55 high-impact entrepreneurs in Central and South America have received support from Ernst & Young’s CR Fellows.