First fellow in Ang-Tasom: Olivier

Children in front of the learning center
Children in front of the learning center

Olivier Kaeser is the first BOOKBRIDGE fellow in our new learning center in Ang-Tasom, Cambodia. Olivier is from Switzerland and participated in our 3rd Capability Program that set-up the center in Ang-Tasom. For his employer Swiss Re, Olivier writes about his fellow experiences in the corporate blog. Here is his first blog post about why he became a BOOKBRIDGE fellow:

For all of you who think military service is worthwhile time of life: you are right! I did learn a lot of valuable “life lessons” during the 5 months I have spent in the army when I was 18. That’s why I wasn’t all that worried when I got called in again for my first three-week “refresher course” in 2012. To make it short: I slept, drank, ate, played cards and then slept again, drank, ate, played cards – for three weeks. With another five of those courses on my agenda, I had to think about alternatives and I decided to serve the rest of my “duty” in the Swiss Civilian Service.

Street impressions
Street impressions

The Swiss Civilian Service offers missions in a variety of fields such as healthcare, environmental protection or development assistance abroad. Since I have read a lot of status reports, project proposals and updates from our various initiatives with Corporate Citizenship and now the Swiss Re Foundation the last couple of years, I thought it would be a thrilling experience for me to switch sides and go on a mission for an NGO.

I was very happy that Dr. Carsten Rübsaamen – CEO of Bookbridge –offered me to go on a mission for his NGO. Bookbridge is a social business with the aim of achieving greater equality in education around the world by establishing community learning centers. The learning centers finance themselves by offering paid courses.

Girl in Learning Center
A girl in the learning center

But the really “smart” thing about Bookbridge is its social business model. Bookbridge generates part of its revenues through the so-called Capability Program – an innovative Leadership Development Program. In one sentence: managers from different companies come together for a time span of 6 months to develop a new Bookbridge learning center in an emerging country including all aspects of project management from the elaboration of a business plan to pitching possible investors. Furthermore the Capability Program is designed to run in sync with a professional schedule. For those who want to learn more about the Capability Program, here is the link. Of course the participants of the program pay a fee and this is how Bookbridge finances its operations and new learning centers – pretty smart I would say.

So Carsten thought that my BBA diploma, my international experience and especially my professional experience with the build-up of the Swiss Re Foundation matched his needs for the challenging job to bring the Ang Tasom learning center in Cambodia to life and make it financially sustainable within the next five months. I was also part of the 2013 Capability Program class that started last July and will now work for the very same learning center in rural Cambodia that we have been developing as a group in the last six months.

Students in front of the learning center
Students in front of the learning center

I am of course very thrilled about this opportunity and I am proud to join the Bookbridge organization for the next few months. I truly hope that my experience will be of help in achieving our common goal of building up the learning center in Cambodia. I furthermore think it will be a very valuable experience for my professional and personal development. But for now I am just excited and want to keep my expectations low before leaving for Cambodia. I will for sure provide you with some updates and photos over the next months and inform you about our progress in Cambodia.

Read all of Oliviers blog posts about his time in Cambodia:
A good start in Ang-Tasom
A very busy January
More than business

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