Frequently asked questions

Find the answers to common questions about our work in Canada and Africa, our initiatives, our people, and our organization.

What is EWB’s annual revenue?

According to our 2015 Annual Report, EWB brought in approximately $4.7 million dollars. Our revenueis sourced from government, individual donations, foundations, national conference, university and private sector contributions.

What’s your administrative/overhead cost?

According to our 2015 Annual Report, our overhead and administrative costs were just under $346,000, or approximately 8% of our annual revenue that year.

How much does EWB spend on its overseas programs?

According to our 2015 Annual Report, we spent approximately $1.8 million CDN dollars on our ventures in Africa. The spending includes direct allocations to ventures along with volunteer stipends. You can view more information through our Annual Reports archive.

What kind of work do you do in Canada?

Our organization works to transform the engineering educational curriculum, encouraging the discipline to incorporate complexity, systems thinking, and global citizenship into its values. This work is performed through a range of initiatives we group together as Evolving Engineering. Additionally, we work in cultivating young social change leaders: particularly, young entrepreneurs and policy leaders.

How many people work at your head office?

Approximately 20 people are employed full-time at our national office, and we have long-term (2 years) and short-term (4-5 months) fellows working in our ventures in Africa.

Is EWB a campaigning or advocacy organization?

Neither. We are an incubator of great ideas that accelerate Africa’s growth and potential. We do engage in some advocacy work in order to help Canada adopt policies that are conducive to Africa’s long-term growth and sustainable development. View our successes and strategies in advocating for change.

Any room for local Canadian businesses to participate and contribute to what EWB is doing?

Absolutely! As an organization comprised of both students and working professionals, we definitely see space for local businesses to be active in our work. We host a variety of gatherings, both within local chapters and the national organization, to advance our thinking and action on global development. Businesses of any and every size can bring an interesting and unique perspective and experience, and we welcome your involvement. For more information, get in contact.

Where do you work in Africa and what does a person do when they go overseas with EWB?

We work in Ghana, Uganda, Kenya, Zambia and Malawi. When a person goes overseas as part of a Fellowship program, they work with one of our ventures, focusing specifically upon growing small, medium enterprises and enabling public services. View our previous work with Small and Growing Businesses and in Governance for Sustainable Services.

How big is your membership?

We have approximately 1,600 active volunteers and thousands of alumni since the organization’s inception 16 years ago.

What does EWB do? Do we drill wells (or build roads) in Africa? If not, why not?

Engineers Without Borders Canada acts as an incubator for social change. As we don’t do any infrastructure projects in Africa, we focus upon addressing the underlying systems and processes that support critical infrastructure. Over the past 15 years, we have learned that using appropriate technology or building infrastructure alone does not address the root causes of poverty as they are very dependent upon these underlying circumstances.

For example, instead of drilling a well, we might partner with private sanitation organizations and government figures to improve the provision of water for larger communities through better service management and implementation. It’s an approach that focuses on the system, rather than the symptom.

Why aren’t you all engineers?

If you look back through our history, you’ll see that EWB was founded on the premise of ‘engineers doing good for the world via access to technology’. However, we have since expanded our efforts to focus on the human systems that perpetuate poverty and inequality in the world, and broadened the expertise our members bring to the table as a result. There is a running joke with a lot of our non-engineer members who refer to our members as “engineers of systems change”.

Are you all engineers?

No, contrary to the name, EWB Canada attracts students and professionals working in a variety of fields. In addition to engineers, we have members working and studying in the fields of policy, international development, consulting, business, law and many other backgrounds.