ABOUT

About US:

We love sharing the wonders of Belize while providing educational and leadership opportunities to students. We love seeing the growth that our students experience when they experience new knowledge first-hand through their field work and community service. Belize challenges students to move outside their comfort zones. Our students achieve amazing results when they do things, they didn’t think they could or have never tried before. Watching a student grow personally with a new view of the world makes us feel we have accomplished something worthwhile.

SWAP isn’t just about the few students, it’s also about the community of people who we teach, live and work with while we are in Belize. Student fees contribute to our efforts to end poverty by creating opportunities for the poor to lift themselves out of poverty

 

OUR HISTORY

Our organization was born in 2010 when a group of friends committed to go to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake that devastated Port au Prince and much of the surrounding area. Once we arrived, we learned we had so much to offer beyond our initial goal to establish a medical clinic. Since that time, we have worked with student aged volunteers to provide sustainable services to children and young adults. Some of the services provided are mental health counseling and life skills training to victims of child sex trafficking, education programs, nutrition programs and entrepreneurial training.

 

Since 2011, we have been providing students with a unique learning experience that instills in them the understanding that we all have a responsibility to use our education and talents to improve the lives of others. Over time these missions were developed into a company called SWAP International (Service With A Purpose International). The programs have been further refined to allow students to gain opportunities to develop skills that will help them develop their own educational and professional skills as they become social innovators.

 

Due to political unrest and for the safety of our students, we have stopped bring students to Haiti, but we continued to provide field courses in Belize. Students from a wide array of academic disciplines bring their skills and education to assist the poor to lift themselves out of poverty.

Our MISSION

The mission of SWAP International is to end poverty by fostering economic opportunities and strong family relationships, while providing students with opportunities to develop into effective professionals.

 

OUR VISION

A recognized center of excellence for study abroad, engaged scholarship and experiential learning

 

OUR CORE VALUES

Sustainability: We are committed to building a better understanding of the human condition and cultures while ensuring our activities have a beneficial and sustaining impact.

 

Respect: We treat everyone with dignity, equality, kindness and trust regardless of ethnicity, lifestyle, gender and beliefs.

 

Teamwork: We work together through cooperation, dedication, respect and open communication.

 

Collaboration: We actively pursue and value cooperative relationships in pursuit of our mission and vision.

 

Our Model:

Our unique model allows students and interns the opportunity to gain hands on experience in entrepreneurial business and social services while assisting the poor to lift themselves out of poverty. Our programs are designed to assist relatively inexperienced and mostly academically trained students to become social entrepreneurs who understand the complexities of poverty and play an active role in efforts to improve the quality of life of some of the most vulnerable populations in the world.


SOCIAL INNOVATIONS PROGRAM

The goal of the Social Innovations Program is to be a catalyst to lift people out of poverty. The Social Innovations Program works with families who live in poverty to assist them to rise above poverty and become self-sufficient.  As a volunteer you will work as a member of a team to complete sustainable projects that will provide participants the resources, they need to lift themselves out of poverty.

Projects that the volunteers are involved with will be dependent of the skills they bring to the project and the needs of the community being served. Some of the past projects volunteers have been involved in include developing sustainable child nutrition programs, building schools, developing clean water systems, health care clinics, and multiple smaller projects.

 

 

MICRO-ENTREPRENEURSHIP INTERSHIP PROGRAM

The Micro-Entrepreneurship Internship Program works with families and teens who are at risk of being victims of human trafficking or multi-generational poverty. Our interns operate under our “Learn, Teach and Practice Model” which allows interns the ability to learn effective entrepreneurial skills while assisting others to develop their business idea.

Our interns work in some of the most challenging environments to develop and grow a small business. They will have very little financial resources and are expected to assist the participant to develop their business to the point where the participant can sustain their family off the profits of their business. Interns only have a short period of time to achieve this goal, so interns are expected to work hard to achieve their goals.

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Matthew Smith

Founder and Principal

Matthew Smith was the founder and director of Operation Shield, a nonprofit organization that provided counseling services to children recovered from sex trafficking. While providing these services in Haiti, Matt learned that many mothers would give their children away because they couldn't feed them. He realized that micro-entrepreneurialism was an effective tool to combat the poverty that drove the child sex trafficking he was fighting.

Mr. Smith developed a program that taught mothers and teens how to use micro-entrepreneurial skills to lift themselves out of poverty. This program was very successful and helped many mothers develop sustainable small businesses that allowed them to feed their families. 

Matt knew there are a lot of bright students who could bring their education and passion to this mission. Students who study business now help mothers develop a small business, while students who study social science work with children to teach life skills that will help the children grow into confident adults.