ENGAGEMENT Tanja Siebert is well-versed in dealing with widely ramified organizations. Through her former work for an internationally active logistics company, she has learned to think in terms of large structures. With a degree in business administration, she introduced a uniform IT system in many countries for her employer, and lived and worked there. This meant that she was already in a management position at a young age.
Siebert can now use this experience for a new professional task. Since 2014, she has been involved as managing partner for the social enterprise Amaidi, which organizes volunteer services worldwide. The goal is to promote development. Amaidi offers projects that create livelihoods for people, environmental or educational projects.
The fact that she has been dealing with international structures for a long time can now be used by Siebert for a social cause: “Now I’m doing something with meaning.” Amaidi is organized as a nonprofit limited liability company, and the company works “not for profit, but for impact,” as Siebert explains. That also corresponds to her personal priorities. She has to earn a living, she says, but does not strive for the highest possible salary.
“I’ve always wanted to shape things,” she says, explaining her decision to get involved with Amaidi. She does not focus on grand theoretical designs, but on well-functioning organization and meaningful projects. “I want to implement the pragmatic. If you use knowledge and technologies in the right way, you can make a lot of things happen.”
Siebert wants to help narrow the gap between the “very saturated lifestyles” in industrialized countries and the world’s less developed regions. That could also prevent future refugee flows, he said. Education is a crucial starting point, he says: “If one project gets 50 kids to enjoy English, a foundation is laid.”
Amaidi has been active since 2003, when Dutchman Camille van Neer founded the nonprofit network in Chennai, India. The name “Amaidi,” which translates as “freedom,” also comes from India. Siebert got to know and appreciate van Neer’s work. It turned out that she was looking for a new task when van Neer wanted to hand over his responsibility for Amaidi. So since 2014, Amaidi has been operating as a non-profit GmbH from Siebert’s home in Rösrath-Kleineichen. More than 50 employees worldwide work for Amaidi – on a fee basis. With clear structures and guidelines, this can be organized, explains Siebert; contacts work via the Internet. “I’m used to leading virtual teams.” Not having an office saves administrative costs. The necessary office work is done by a volunteer from Kleineichen, a retired executive secretary.
Her efforts are exemplary of what Amaidi is striving for: Professionally experienced volunteers are to use their professional know-how for development projects. The idea is not only to have volunteers spend months in faraway countries, but also to provide services after work or on a weekday. Many things are conceivable – contributions from IT specialists, managers, technicians, doctors or educators.
Because these professionals usually have little time in addition to their jobs, Siebert also wants to attract companies to Amaidi. These could release employees for a few working hours and thus promote a social cause. Siebert believes that companies can submit their requirements to Amaidi and suitable projects can be found. Of course, projects in sabbatical years are also conceivable.
Apart from the switching of vocationally experienced Freiwilligen Amaidi sends also young people, who terminated straight only the school, to international employments. For the first time, a volunteer from Rösrath has just left for a work assignment: she is helping to improve the English of children in Vietnam. It’s not about lessons, but an afternoon program with games. Up to now, volunteers have paid a placement fee, as well as their travel expenses and living costs on site. If desired, Amaidi will help fundraise for a personal placement; donations are tax deductible. Siebert hopes that in the long run it will be possible to cover the costs of volunteers. That could be accomplished through government grants or sponsors. At present, around 40 volunteers are active in Amaidi projects. Tanja Siebert wants to expand the activities in the future. “That’s my goal,” she says resolutely. “I’m not afraid of it.”
If you use knowledge and technologies in the right way, you can make a lot of difference
Author: THOMAS RAUSCH (KSTA)