JAN BERNARD TAN
JB Tan, Executive Director of iVolunteer Philippines, dreams to encourage every Filipino to volunteer towards building a better Philippines.
In 1997, Mr. Tan started volunteering in church because of his simple desire to develop his communication skills. Overtime, he realized he should also give back to the communities that have helped him. During his stay in De La Salle University, he realized he can have greater positive impact in the community leveraging his background on Computer Science. He established Computer Literacy Advocates for the Youth (CLAY) right after graduation which aimed to provide free basic computer training to public school students and teachers.
In 2009, he wanted to continue volunteering; however, it was difficult for him to find opportunities while being part of the workforce. In the aftermath of typhoon Ondoy, he noticed that there were a lot of Filipinos who wanted to volunteer to help, but also did not know where to lend their hand. This inspired him, together with his fellow founder Bel Padlan, to establish iVolunteer Philippines – the country’s first volunteer website built by volunteers to spread the passion of volunteerism. The website provides individuals easy access to find volunteering opportunities that match what they are passionate about. At the same time, it provides volunteer-engaging organizations a platform to find volunteers with the right skill set and interests that match the organization’s needs.
iVolunteer Philippines has evolved from just being a simple website to becoming an avenue for volunteer education. For non-government organizations, they facilitate volunteer engagement workshops to teach institutions how to engage and grow volunteers. They also hold partnership meet-ups that build the network of the social development sector. As for individuals, they organize “Start Your Adventure” sessions to teach the fundamentals of volunteerism and facilitate volunteer community meet-ups to provide a support group that helps sustain one’s journey of being a volunteer. They also go to private corporations to address the benefits of being a volunteer to employees and encourage them to take part in volunteer events or programs. Recently, they have also launched their program such as GO! Volunteer Expo, BayaniRun, Time Please and the Social Innovation Challenge to attract different types of volunteering.
Today, iVolunteer has inspired around 123,000 Filipinos to volunteer in the various projects and programs they offer in their website. They have also supported about 300 communities with the help of their partner organizations. According to Mr. Tan, an indicator that iVolunteer is achieving its goal is when they are able to transform an individual from someone who was not involved in any type of volunteering to become leaders and role models in the development sector.
A few years after iVolunteer was established, he and Mr. Padlan realized that they can do more for the communities besides providing volunteers. They observed that communities have livelihood programs but are often not sustainable, since they have difficulties in selling their products. In 2017, Mr. Tan, Mr. Padlan and their friends established The Good Store. It is an online marketplace that advocates cause-driven and local community-based enterprises. It aims to provide consumers with an easier way to live a socially-responsible lifestyle. The Good Store offers various local products such as food and beverages made of sustainable ingredients, zero waste items, grooming kits and more. All products are made by Filipino communities of mothers, farmers, out-of-school youth, among others.
Using his expertise in information technology, Mr. Tan exemplifies the entrepreneurial spirit of Ramon V. del Rosario. Establishing iVolunteer Philippines and The Good Store Philippines, while maintaining his full-time day job, shows that he innovatively addressed societal needs by providing a digital solution. He ensures that his two initiatives remain sustainable by maintaining a good relationship with the communities he helps and developing the future leaders of these organizations. Truly, Mr. Tan is a role model for every youth leader in this day and age.