Their logo looks like a seed which would have germinated, and whose two green shoots form a V. V for Volunteer, V for victories perhaps also, in a closed circle where one does not turn in circles, on the contrary ... Malak Yacout, 23, and Nadine Makarem, 30, are the two beautiful energies behind The Volunteer Circle, today a very wide circle to become faster and more efficient. The objective for these two complementary friends is to identify the needs of the different sectors and to offer the appropriate answers through volunteers who are eager to offer their services.
They have just celebrated their two years online, now "surrounded" by 5,000 volunteers and 180 NGOs. When they started, in March 2019, with a modest site, “Malak had an already ambitious vision,” says Nadine Makarem. “I trusted her and tried to help where I could. Emergencies pushed us to go faster, ”she adds. Malak Yacout, a marketing graduate, who had volunteering experience in start-ups and international organizations, had already personally felt a void, a lack of organization that did not make it possible to take advantage of the time and know-how of the many young Lebanese volunteers, available like her.
“During my studies, it was very difficult for me to find volunteering opportunities or even internships. The obstacles were numerous, there was no established process, no method to follow, no “directory” to consult, ”she explains. With a master's degree in international relations and experience in journalism, Nadine Makarem felt the same shortcomings. Without financial assistance, they provide themselves a first small amount which allows them to launch their site and are already looking, as quickly as possible, to organize all this. And essentially, to connect volunteers with NGOs who have proposals to make. "The local problems were numerous and imposed needs and priorities", continues Nadine. “We did not know that all these crises were going to follow one another so quickly… They both slowed down our overall vision, but forced us to work very quickly. "
Today, The Volunteer Circle, which won the Young Innovation Award 2020, has transformed. “Our platform works like a social enterprise, open to the world, plus technology."
The Volunteer Circle innovates the way people tap into volunteering in Lebanon, the MENA region, and beyond. Passionate about channeling her creativity and business skills to mobilize the next generation towards active impact, #SheFoundHerWay after her own 9 month long challenge of looking for a volunteer role.
“I was thinking, how determined does one have to be in order to find a volunteer opportunity that matches their interests and availability? People are not the problem; they are willing to volunteer, it was the process that needed to be fixed.”
Since their launch, she has seen a change in people’s lives when matched with the right volunteer opportunities. “Some people learned to connect with themselves better, some others made life-changing encounters, and others even found jobs at a time where they had lost hope in the broken system of Lebanon. Through my work, I am really trying to build a change that outlasts me.”