Francisco Noguera

Get Involved! Apply to an iCat Fellowship with LGT Venture Philanthropy

Almost two years ago, I wrote a blog post telling people about an opportunity to get practical experience in social enterprise: the iCat Fellowship offered by LGT Venture Philanthropy.

Two weeks ago, I got an email sharing the story of Cynthia, who recently finished her fellowship having learned about the opportunity through, the email said. Now that’s a boost of motivation for a blogger, so here goes the invitation once again. (I should mention that seeing Colombia’s innovative aeioTU among the host organizations makes me even more enthusiastic).

Learn about and apply to a unique opportunity with the iCat Fellowship. For extra encouragement, read Cynthia’s story and see available opportunities below.

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Cynthia Schweer, an alumni iCats Fellow 2009 describes her experience to work for mothers2mothersin Cape Town, South Africa.

After doing my MBA at INSEAD, I set up the US operations of Starfish, an organization that assists orphaned andvulnerable children in South Africa. This work was exciting since it combined the entrepreneurial and social elements that I sought in my career. In this role, I saw first-hand the difficulty of making a difference in achronically resource-constrained sector.

After a year on the fundraising side, I wanted to spend more time out in the field and was keen to apply mybusiness experience to the challenge of creating sustainable models for social change. Early in 2009, I wasaccepted as an LGT Venture Philanthropy iCats Fellow (the Program offers training, mentorship and financial support to mid-career professionals providing business expertise to social organizations) and began working for mothers2mothers as a business development strategist. mothers2mothers is one of currently 13 portfolio organizations LGT Venture Philanthropy is investing into. It is a great example of a ’professional social organization’ – an organization applying business principles in the public health sector, specifically by employing and training HIV+ mothers as mentors and increasing uptake of treatment to preventmother-to-child transmission of HIV. The organization has grown rapidly and is now operating in nearly 600 clinics in 7 countries, hiring more than 1,500 HIV+ mothers as peer education leaders who empower others toprotect their babies.

Interestingly, as a former management consultant, I find that my days are not dissimilar from my previous career. The major difference is that instead of saving a corporation cent on the dollar, I am trying to increase the number of women who are able to access life-saving care. Spreadsheet models become infinitely more interesting when applied in that context! I worked closely with the management team to implement the strategic plan, building models to deliver servicesin new locations, performing analyses to understand m2m’s impact and cost-effectiveness, and ensuring that we are meeting funding requirements. I also helped to streamline support functions, such as budgeting, planningand forecasting, so that our resources go further.

There are the same organizational issues one find in for-profit companies but often coupled with severe resource constraints. This means that you will often be called upon to ’wear many hats’ and stretch your skills and comfort zone. You will also need to be able to tolerate a less-defined career path. Business acumen is also key. I applied my background in hospitality – working with operations teams and franchisees to implement brandstandards – to developing a franchise model for quicker provision of m2m services. I also used my skills inaccounting and finance to assist m2m in their financial reporting processes.

The most inspiring part of the job was visiting sites where HIV+ mothers are educating pregnant women to takecontrol of their health and that of their babies. I visited sites in South Africa, Malawi and Kenya: seeing andrealizing how many woman and babies will be affected – nearly 20 000 annually in Malawi alone – was proof tome of how important this work is.

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When Cynthia was asked how she experienced the iCats Fellowship Program, she said: “I have met amazing people, both at m2m and LGT Venture Philanthropy. These new colleagues have enriched my life considerably, by challenging me to think differently about the world and allowing me to do work that is intellectually and emotionally fulfilling. I joined the Fellowship with some cynicism toward the nonprofit sector; the level of talent that I have witnessed at m2m has changed that fundamentally. I consider this fellowship as a complete transformation of my career going forward.”

LGT Venture Philanthropy is currently looking for business professionals who are keen on making a similarexperience and want to use their professional skills to help social organizations around the globe scaling theirimpact. Building on the success of the last 2 years, LGT Venture Philanthropy offers exciting opportunities for2011! Application deadline: 23 July 2010. Apply now for the iCats Fellowship Program 2011.A Fellow works 11 months on-site with a portfolio organization from February to December 2011 and receivesregular mentoring from the LGT Venture Philanthropy team. In addition, a 4-day induction workshop brings allfellows together in Switzerland.

If you want to find out more about the Program, visit or write an email

Fellow position 2011


+ Social Franchise Director

Fundacion Carulla – aeioTu

+ Strategy and Business Developer

Ciudad Saludable

+ International Sales and Marketing Manager

Rags2Riches, Inc.

+ Operations Manager

Rags2Riches, Inc.

+ Financial Analyst

Fundacao Pro-Cerrado

+ Fundraising Specialist For Europe

Operation ASHA

+ Business Development – India


+ Business Development – China


+ Fundraising Consultant

Aangan Trust


Aangan Trust

+ Chief Operating Officer


+ Fundraising Specialist