“I heard about Raleigh when I was 17 years old and wanting to take time out from university. I liked geography, history and wildlife and I was looking for a challenge. A friend of my sister had moved to Zambia and her stories about the people she met were really insightful.
“I was in Zimbabwe for three months. It was a lifechanger and it took the silver spoon right out of my mouth. Playing football with a group of kids with a plastic ball taped together made me realise how lucky I was.”
“Reflecting back now, I think my Raleigh experience gave me a lot of optimism. The people in the community were so ambitious about their future and joyous about life, that they inspired me to be the same in my entrepreneurial life.”
In 2012, Alistair channelled that optimism to set up a sustainable business of his own. He quit his job as an accountant in the oil and gas industry and created eConnect Cars – a chauffeur-driven car service using electric vehicles.
“My memories of Raleigh kept me morally conscious. I worked in in Tanzania for ten years and was always mindful of our impact on communities there. I felt I needed to change from having a personal perspective, and I knew I had become disconnected from my purpose in my job. I was conscious of our impact on the environment and wanted to create an enterprise that would be good for the planet”.
So why electric cars? And how did his Raleigh experience from all those years ago stimulate such a brave change of career?
“People need to be able to move around, especially people with mobility issues who rely on their vehicles. Electric cars are carbon free, so I believe they are the future. So, I took a huge risk and set up a business to run electric taxis in London. I had the optimism to do it which I learnt from Raleigh. In Zimbabwe I learnt that we are so lucky to have the resources we have. We are able to take the risks, so I did!”
Though all Raleigh experiences are different, they all have a profound effect on our young volunteers. Whether they have been a volunteer in the last year or twenty years ago, it’s clear that the Raleigh values really do stay with our alumni for a lifetime.
Have you got an interesting alumni story to share? Tell us all about! Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org