Donating business skills to end the poverty cycle

Jon Ven Johnson is a Texan working in Laos, where he helps disadvantaged young people build a career. But Ven Johnson isn't an aid worker. He's an MBA with a background in management consultancy and what he's offering isn't charity -- it's years of business experience.

Ven Johnson works with a non-profit, MBAs Without Borders, that trains disadvantaged youths in Cambodia and Laos and gives them jobs carrying out IT services for international clients. The idea is that MBAs can help small businesses and not-for-profits by providing the know-how and experience needed to help them grow.

Founder Tal Dehtiar says, "I really believe that business might be the one way we can alleviate poverty. I don't believe the answer is handouts, but in developing and supporting businesses that can grow and hire 100 or 500 people. Think about all the families they affect."

Ven Johnson adds, "I bring the knowledge of how a business should run according to Western standards -- specifically, how finance departments are structured, the typical financial reports that should be produced each month and what measurements they should be watching to help them gauge their success."

After years of working as a management consultant in Houston, Texas, Ven Johnson and his wife, who also works for DDD, decided to use their skills to give something back. "I loved being a management consultant but I asked myself, 'How am I making the world a better place?' I was putting money in shareholders pockets and helping a company create a good product -- that's alright, but I thought, 'What if I used the same skills to really make an impact on the lives of people who really need it?'"

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