I first heard about Venture With Impact in 2017. They seemed to be one of several new organizations focusing on the quickly growing number of digital nomads around the world. But, with a twist.
“Venture with Impact is a coworking program that engages professionals on a 4-week-skills-based volunteering program while working remotely for their jobs. This allows them to develop professionally, rediscover purpose, and in the process, provide a positive social impact.”
It’s the social impact aspect that got my attention.
Most organizations offering travel opportunities for digital nomads and remote workers focus on arranging local accommodation and a good place to work from. The fact that Venture With Impact offers skill-based volunteering on top of that made them a lot more interesting to me.
I have volunteered abroad several times before and I know how difficult it is to find meaningful volunteer opportunities. Therefore the fact that Venture With Impact would arrange this for me was what made me decide to try their program.
I know very well how privileged I am to live this lifestyle and to travel as much as I do, so the idea of being able to use my skills for something good, even if it only makes a small impact, really appeals to me.
And because Venture With Impact happened to have a program coming up in Medellin, Colombia where they said they had an organization that could really use my web design and marketing skills, I decided to just give it a go!
So off I went, to a city I knew very little about in a country most of my friends believed to be very unsafe…
My experience as a digital nomad in Medellin with Venture With Impact
After several long flights I finally made it to Medellin. At the airport a taxi was waiting for me to take me to my apartment in Medellin. With Venture With Impact you will, as with most other digital nomad travel organizations, share your accommodation.
Together with two other participants I was given an apartment in Laureles, one of Medellin’s neighborhoods that is popular with digital nomads. We would be spending a month here, working, exploring and volunteering at our assigned organizations.
I think this is the first time I started to notice that Venture With Impact still really is a startup. They are passionate about what they do and are growing quickly, but not everything runs smoothly yet.
Our apartment, although great on paper (recently renovated, in one of the most popular neighborhoods) did cause us several issues during the month. From the washing machine not working to major wifi issues (I am a digital nomad so the one thing I need to work well is the internet!). Our location also turned out to be not the greatest which made our living experience less than ideal.
Venture With Impact’s Program
Our month long program started with an official introductory meeting. And that’s where I experienced the value of a travel organization like this. Being in a new city, and not just as a tourist for a few days but as someone who will be living and working here for a month, it is really nice to have a few people showing you the ropes.
With two American group leaders and one local Colombian we had a great amount of knowledge available to us. Not just during our introduction but throughout the month there was always someone who could help us out. Whether it was figuring out public transport, getting a local sim card or just getting tips on where to eat and what supermarkets to use. It’s nice to have that network ready for you!
Throughout the month we had weekly meetings and several social events.
The weekly meetings were organized mainly to update each other on how our volunteer projects were going and to just have a nice dinner with the rest of the group. Venture With Impact definitely helps you ease into your new experience abroad. And especially if you haven’t spent a lot of time abroad before and probably underestimate how intense it can be to live in a different country with a completely different culture, their help is very valuable. They really make an effort to prepare you for the culture shock you might feel and to make you understand life and all the cultural differences in your new temporary home.
While I was in Medellin Venture With Impact also organized two weekend trips to different areas outside of Medellin. And although it’s a bit pricier than organizing these trips yourself, after a busy week of combining work with volunteering and getting to know a new city, it’s quite nice to have someone else taking care of your travel plans.
Before we arrived the organization emailed us a calendar of what our month would look like. This included all our volunteer work obligations, our weekly meetings and other events organized. This definitely helps you to prepare for your trip and to have a better idea of what to expect.
Something many other digital nomad organizations arrange that Venture With Impact doesn’t are workshops, seminars or business events. Venture With Impact does not focus on professional development nor offers real networking opportunities.
Note: Unlike most other travel programs focusing on digital nomads and remote workers Venture With Impact doesn’t offer the use of a coworking space. Of course they know the city well and can advise you on which coworking space to use. But this will then be an extra expense.
Venture With Impact’s volunteer projects in Medellin
During our month in Medellin all of us were linked with a local organization that could really use our skills. And this I really liked: we weren’t just sent to a local school to teach English because we happen to speak English. No, they focus on skill based volunteering and, without having met us in person, did the best they could to find us organizations that could actually use our skills.
I ended up volunteering with Fundación Huellas, an organization that focuses on helping families and children who were displaced during the many years of conflicts in Colombia.
Now as goes for most non-profits I have seen anywhere in the world, efficiency is not their strong point and some of my fellow participants struggled with that in their volunteer placements. But, that being said, I loved my volunteering experience. I got to know an incredible group of local Colombians working for this organization, most as volunteers as well. Their passion and dedication to make a difference was incredibly inspiring. And the fact that I got to see how they live their lives in Colombia and more heartbreaking how some of these displaced families live their lives in Colombia, made my stay in Medellín unique.
During my month in Medellín I thought the staff about marketing and web design to hopefully contribute something not just to the organization but also to their own professional development. Many of them are still so young and eager to learn that I really hope this interaction with a range of skilled volunteers will help them to see what future possibilities there are for them. And by the end of the month I had created a new website for the organization which will hopefully help them to attract the funding they need and more future volunteers.
Although Venture With Impact did their best to connect us with suitable organizations, it didn’t all go smoothly.
I was told about two different projects I would be working on and ended up doing a third one. I was also told the volunteer work would only take up about five hours per week. It ended up being closer to 20 hours per week.
As a startup Venture With Impact simply doesn’t have all the experience and plans in place yet to structure everything well. Some of my fellow participants were disappointed with their volunteer placements because of this.
Flexibility and an open mind are therefore definitely important here!
Venture With Impact’s participants
During my stay in Medellín we were a group of just six participants. And although Venture With Impact does expect that to go up a bit, groups tend to be smaller than with some other digital nomad organizations, which I really appreciate.
What was a bit disappointing to me was that I was the only participant who wasn’t from the USA and also the only digital nomad… I understand better now why, but if you are hoping to meet a group of digital nomads, these types of travel organizations might not be the best way of meeting them.
What I do like is that Venture With Impact seems to attract people with diverse backgrounds and of all ages. Our oldest participant was this amazingly inspiring woman in her 70s!
Who is Venture With Impact perfect for
Venture With Impact focuses on both digital nomads and remote workers who want to experience life in a new city while making a difference.
During my month in Medellín there were also several participants who were in between jobs. And that might actually be a very suitable audience since the volunteer work, maybe combined with some Spanish lessons or salsa dance classes, can definitely fill up your weeks.
Venture With Impact, like most of these other digital nomad organizations, is probably most suitable for the busy professional looking for a unique international experience. If you are busy and need to make sure you have minimal disruption to your work life, then organizations like these are extremely helpful. You can literally fly to the city of your choice and continue work as soon as you arrive since everything is organized for you.
On top of that you get a ready made community. You don’t have to worry about making friends and finding out how the city works on your own. You can spend your weekdays working and then have your fellow participants to hang out with and explore the city with on your time off. And you have a great support system in case anything goes wrong.
But, what differentiates Venture With Impact from all these other organizations focusing on digital nomads and remote workers is definitely the volunteer work. If you have ever looked into volunteering abroad you know how difficult it is to find meaningful volunteer work that doesn’t harm local communities. So the fact that they arrange this for you is definitely worth something.
Don’t expect it to teach you how to become a digital nomad though. That’s not what they do. They organize everything for you and help you spend a month abroad with ease. So if you are looking for an organization who can help you live and work abroad for a month and do meaningful volunteer work, then Venture With Impact is a great option. Do keep in mind that the volunteer work might take up more time than you think and will therefore be difficult to combine with a 40+ hour workweek.
The digital nomad community in Medellin
Working remotely while traveling the world is a dream for many. Yet in the end most of us clearly look for a community and that is why you see more and more ‘digital nomad hubs’. And Medellín is definitely one of them.
Medellín does offer a good deal for digital nomads: great weather, low cost of living, good public transport and plenty of coworking spaces to meet other digital nomads and nice cafés to work from.
In my opinion the pollution in Medellín is too much and there are definitely much safer places in the world. But, if you are looking for a city with incredibly friendly people and a good digital nomad community, then give Medellín a try!
For more information about digital nomad life in Medellín and what it has to offer check out this Digital Nomad Guide to Medellin
- 12 Things to Know Before Traveling to Colombia
- Interview With an Expat About Living in Medellín
- The Best Rooftop Bars in Medellín, Colombia
- Things to Know Before Trekking to The Lost City in Colombia
- 7 Emotional Challenges of Digital Nomad Life
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Disclaimer: my digital nomad trip to Medellin was sponsored by Venture With Impact. However, as always all opinions are my own and I would not endorse anything I did not enjoy!