2-16-09 Conference Call

February 16, 2009 Conference Call

Andrea Okrentowich
Michelle Kelley-Olsen
Barbara Lang

Discussion: Barbara gave significant insight into the VA industry. She made it clear that without a well defined mission, many VAs may feel their businesses are threatened by GVAN. One issue of social concern is the "sweat shop" concern. We do not want VAs or others to feel we are running a sweatshop by hiring VAs at low cost in developing countries. Michelle stated that it is hard enough these days to feed our own families, let alone consider giving some of our work to other VAs.

Barbara was supportive of putting computers in the hands of women in developing countries in order to work with US women. It was discussed that we could start small in the US and then branch out globally. Barbara made a good point that not anyone could be a VA and we need to keep VA standards high. With that said, we could look into providing VA training. Barbara suggested we look into the YMCA and possibly provide business training there.

Without enough structure, there is a concern that the VA industry will not take GVAN seriously. In response to the "sweatshop" concern, we should have an expert present for presentations, etc. (Denise Leonard?) that could explain the relation of US money to that of developing countries; such as India. We should also have a study conducted as proof that the women in developing countries are not being taken advantage of.

Perhaps the most exciting part of the discussion was Barbara's idea of using local knowledge to support efforts of US businesses to expand globally. The idea is that US companies are interested in branching out to other countries; for example Portugal. We could have VAs in the other countries working with the US companies with the benefit of local knowledge and customs. This could work equally as well for other countries looking to branch out. In this way we are not taking jobs from American VAs. The US VAs could connect US businesses to VAs in the specific country requested, and receive a contractor fee.

In order to move forward GVAN needs to define its mission and vision; we need to flesh out what it is we are trying to achieve. Andrea brought up virtual outsourcing as an all-encompassing definition of GVAN rather than focusing on VAs which is primarily administrative by definition. Barbara commented that this could be a long term goal of GVAN with Virtual Assisting as a short term goal.

We also discussed FOVA which takes place in June. We need a solid concept in order to obtain feedback. It would also be a good idea to invite Denise to attend to address the financial aspect of GVAN.

We discussed the need for a GVAN board. It needs to consist of several types of experts including VAs, financial experts and starting or potential VAs which will provide valuable insight into the needs of start-up and success. Thus far we have Barbara, Andrea and Michelle as board members, we also have Peggy Krouch as a start-up VA (Pilot program) and we would like to invite Denise Leonard; who has worked extensively on GVAN.

Decisions: It was decided that the board will meet every Monday at 11am EST via conference call.

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