What is your role or relationship with CESO?
How long have you been working or volunteering with CESO?
What motivates you to work or volunteer with CESO?
Firstly, I’m fortunate to have had opportunities that many others haven’t: I live in a politically stable, socially progressive and financially prosperous country; I have a handful of aptitudes that seem to be valued within the global economy; I have never been drafted, nor have I been the victim of violence; I have never felt existentially threatened by discrimination.
The moral calculus here is pretty simple: there’s an obligation on the part of those who have much to support those who have little.
Secondly, I support CESO’s mandate of economic partnership: I believe that healthy, regulated economies are, in general, nurturing of peaceful societies.
What is your most remarkable experience or memory of CESO?
I’ve been fortunate to work with several extremely skilled people in Canada and abroad, particularly those volunteers who’ve committed their own time to undertake assignments, draft documentation, train new team members and more.
A couple years ago, I was doing advance planning for an assignment that required familiarity with some specialized transportation software, and I called the software company’s sales department to get answers to a few questions. The executive I spoke with was incredulous that anyone would travel to the other side of the world and spend two to three weeks working with local businesses and municipal governments to become more efficient. I suppose, in retrospect, this strikes me as remarkable: that the notion of volunteerism was inexplicable to someone in software development, an industry supported by a large, philanthropically-minded community of open source developers, and that the notion of “work” was apparently reserved for those tasks for which one is compensated in cash, not the satisfaction of effort or the elevation of a shared technological ecosystem.
Economic development is important because…
In the regions where I’ve traveled on behalf of CESO and other development organizations, political stability, social equity and community cohesion have all been tightly coupled with economic opportunity. Where families are unable to thrive, communities more easily fracture along social and cultural lines, creating a well-documented feedback loop where economic opportunity becomes even scarcer as investors steer clear of instability and government redirects resources away from infrastructure and growth.
This isn’t a phenomenon limited to the global south—it’s similarly evident in industrial, rural and Indigenous communities in North America. CESO’s focus on economic empowerment as a means of encouraging social stability, particularly the empowerment of privately owned, small- to medium-sized businesses, is the reason I continue to not only support the organization, but actively volunteer for assignments in regions where I believe there’s quantitative potential for improvements in the standard of living.