Celebrating Google employee Rick and his contribution to Raleigh International

3rd December 2019

For six years, volunteers from Google offices across Europe have spent two weeks in rural communities each year to mentor and support inspirational young entrepreneurs with the passion and drive to make their micro-enterprise a success. At the heart of the programme is Google employee Rick Van Woudenbergh, who has paved the way for a number of impactful projects.

On projects driven by young people and Google employees, Raleigh leverages the skill of Google employees to enable rural youth to develop their confidence, skills and knowledge, to generate increased, reliable and sustainable incomes. Building on the foundations laid by ICS livelihoods volunteers, the Googlers provide additional training and support to youth micro-enterprises that often struggle or fail in the early stages as young people are often excluded from start-up capital, have limited support networks and cannot access the expertise necessary to troubleshoot and address problems.


Without the commitment of Rick van Woudenbergh, none of this would have been possible. Driving the programme forward since 2016 alongside friend and colleague Adam Nosálek (and doing this solo since 2018) Rick has gone on to lead this special employee-led initiative and under his stewardship the programme has gone from strength to strength, recruiting in excess of 70 volunteers, helping train over 220 youth entrepreneurs as a direct result, and generating over £326,000 in volunteer fundraising.

Rick’s Raleigh journey first began in 2015, when he and 17 Googlers flew to Nicaragua to work side by side 38 young entrepreneurs to strengthen their businesses and entrepreneurial skills. An intensive 2-week experience of mentoring and training local entrepreneurs on action plan development, marketing, book-keeping, finance and the establishment of local networks. Following his time in Nicaragua Rick went on to participate on the 2016 programme, heading to Nundu, Tanzania and returning in partnership with Raleigh Tanzania to deliver three Google CSI Lab sessions, an innovation workshop designed to encourage users to think 10x. From the 33 participants 100% of them agreed that “What I learned here will have a positive impact on my company/organisation”.

Juggling the demands of a full-time job and becoming a father at the end of last year, Rick’s voluntary role in project managing this initiative has been crucial to the programme’s impact and the success. Without alumni like Rick, Google volunteers would not have been able to support over 220 youth entrepreneurs since 2015. Entrepreneurs like Chrisper, a hair salon owner from Tanzania:

“It was a great opportunity to work with the Google volunteers because we gained new knowledge and skills. I got different skills especially on business management like working out cashflow, how to save more efficiently and especially on finding alternative sources of finance. This project really helped me. Now I will be able to help young entrepreneurs by sharing my knowledge and business skills. Most small entrepreneurs in rural Tanzania lack knowledge on business management so this is the area that I will try to support them on.”

Joséphine Kant, an alumnus of the programme, recently said of Rick:

“Rick has been the key force driving this programme. His proactivity and passion for entrepreneurship has led to incredible opportunities for Google employees that want to give back to their community. I feel really lucky to have met Rick because it allowed me to take part in Raleigh’s programme in Tanzania, which is one of the most empowering and fulfilling volunteering experiences I’ve been a part of.”

We want to thank you Rick and to celebrate you as one of our most impact-focused alumni. Your drive, altruism and passion for youth-led sustainable development has enabled us to create genuine impact in Nicaragua, Tanzania and Nepal – supporting us in our work to create genuine and lasting change.

If you would like to hear more about effective partnerships and the returns we can offer your business then please get in touch at corporatepartnership@raleighinternational.org

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