By Eleanor Pinugu, co-founder of Mano Amiga Academy, Inc.
Editor’s note: We’re delighted to share an independent perspective of the Innovate4Good@Microsoft event that took place in Singapore 28-29 April. It comes from Eleanor "Lynn" Pinugu who is one of the young leaders who attended the event.
Lynn (fifth from the left) with fellow delegates from the Philippines and Clair Deevy (far right), Microsoft's Asia Citizenship Manager, on the first day of the Innovate4Good Summit in Singapore.
My initial reaction when I received the invitation to the Microsoft Innovate4Good conference was one of disbelief. I’m not someone who falls under the tech-savvy category and felt anxious about what I would contribute to the discussions. As what another participant pointed out, I didn’t even know what basic terms like cloud computing meant, much less how they worked.
As head of Mano Amiga Academy, a non-profit school for underprivileged children, I try not to pass on opportunities that would help generate awareness about the school. I knew I had much to learn when it comes to maximizing what technology could offer, especially when it comes to giving our cause a global reach. Since the event brief for Innovate4good promised that it’ll expose me to the “transformative power of technology”, I threw my apprehensions about ‘not being techie enough’ out the window, packed my bags and headed for Singapore.
In the conference, I found myself surrounded by bright young minds from diverse backgrounds: student leaders, software developers, game designers, NGO workers, entrepreneurs; each one brimming with ideas and ablaze with passion to help shape a better world. After words of welcome from the Microsoft team, they informed us that we had a day and a half to come up with a project. The proposed idea should 1) incorporate technology in solving a pressing problem, 2) feature a sustainable business model and 3) be ready for presentation to an esteemed set of judges by the end of the conference.
The facilitators encouraged us to “keep asking questions” because this would enable us to explore the same situations with a renewed perspective. Any other doubts we had about whether or not our assigned task was feasible simply became irrelevant when two guest speakers shared how they put up their own NGOs despite their economically disadvantaged backgrounds. One of the founders was a genocide survivor, while the other was an 11 year-old boy who used to scavenge for trash.
The conference showcased the latest Microsoft technologies, not only to show us what the available platforms are, but also to demonstrate just how liberating technology could be in crystallizing ideas we would have never thought possible. I lost count of how many times I had to stifle a gasp of amazement during my hands-on trial of Microsoft Surface as I saw images and simulations simultaneously being brought to life by 50 different inputs. I couldn’t stop wishing I had my students with me so that they too could have the exhilarating experience of creating something tactile at the touch of a finger.
Microsoft said it is in the business of enabling potential. I personally believe Innovate4Good is a testament to this. In spite of time constraints and some language barriers (something common, given that Asia Pacific is a melting pot of cultures), the combined skills and expertise of the participants led to the birth of simple yet innovative ideas that address real-life challenges. More than anything, the event served as a good reminder of the magic of collaboration. Young individuals are capable of amazing things, but by working together, particularly with people whose strengths and experience differ from us, we would be able to accomplish greater things.
Imagination paired with technology leads to endless possibilities. It was so inspiring to see young people take available technology, build upon it and choose to use it for social change. With technology as our paintbrush and the world is our canvas, there is nothing stopping us from painting a brighter future.
As for me, a.k.a. the ‘least techie participant’? Well, my team’s project won second place for an idea I had been assigned to present. I’ve also made a firm resolution that Mano Amiga Academy would be more aggressive in integrating technology in our education programs and in seeking out which products and services could drastically enhance the learning experience of our students.
Oh and I no longer have to Bing ‘Cloud Computing’ to be able to tell you what it means…Admittedly, I have a long way to go, but am making encouraging first steps toward embracing technology and the world of opportunities that it offers.
More information about Innovate4Good:
Eleanor "Lynn" Pinugu is the co-founder of Mano Amiga Academy, Inc., a non-profit school based in the Philippines that seeks to provide quality education to children from impoverished communities. The World Economic Forum recently named her as a Global Shaper for her work in development and was one of the 70 Shapers chosen to participate in the 2012 WEF Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland. Her participation in Innovate4good@Microsoft has inspired her to work on her current relationship with technology—from being ‘one-sided’ and ‘transaction-based’ to a more fluid and mutually beneficial friendship.
Pirated software is widely reported as a source of revenue loss for businesses. However, a recent study1 commissioned by Microsoft and the Harrison Group showed that intellectual property owners were not the only victims – customers also suffer.
Matt Schmitt was the unfortunate victim of counterfeit software. He purchased a copy of Windows® XP for his Hamilton computer without realizing it was a counterfeit copy. The product key that he typed into the computer failed to work. Within seconds, his PC became infected with viruses and spyware.
”I lost a lot of personal data,” said Mr Schmitt. “I had to have it replaced at an additional cost – I’m hoping my story will mean that others don’t have to go through the same issues I have had.”
Mark Rees, National Technology Officer, Microsoft New Zealand, informed the public that, “The presence of high-quality fakes in the market today makes distinguishing counterfeit software from the genuine article a continuing challenge for consumers.” He also noted, “The best way to avoid pitfalls and ensure you buy genuine software is to follow the Microsoft Buyer’s checklist.”
The repercussions of piracy can be substantive. Mr Rees said that “Pirated software creates a US$1.5 billion disadvantage in local economies around the world – something which in turn hinders job opportunities and stifles innovation.”
At the root of the matter, what consumers really want is to get the most out of their personal computers (PCs). But, using pirated software can actually lead to the opposite outcome. The study sponsored by Microsoft and completed by the Harrison Group showed that laptop battery lives were shortened by 26 minutes on machines with pirated software – at least 60 percent of the time. Another interesting result showed that systems running on genuine Windows and Microsoft® Office software outperformed pirated counterparts 75 percent of the time.
The above statistics, among other key findings, were released by Microsoft as part of Play Fair Day and were aimed at helping businesses, consumers and governments know the dangers of fake software.
“I lost a lot of personal data and the pirated software caused huge frustration, especially when I had to have it replaced at an additional cost – I’m hoping my story will mean that others don’t have to go through the same issues I have had.” - Matt Schmitt, a Hamilton computer user
1 This was a paper sponsored by Microsoft and completed by the Harrison Group. The paper evaluated the impact of unlicensed software on end-users, especially within a company using Microsoft software. To capture a strong representation of large markets, studies included data from the United States, the United Kingdon, China and Brazil.
Microsoft New Zealand provided some of the company's latest software and technology to the country’s largest sporting event in history, as an official sponsor of Rugby World Cup 2011.
The sponsorship, valued at more than NZ$2 million, involved supplying a range of desktop and server software licenses, including Silverlight® Player, Windows 7®, Microsoft Office 2010®, Windows Server®, SQL Server®, SharePoint® Server and SharePoint ®Online to support the successful operation of the tournament.
Hospitality was also extended to organisations Microsoft supports and it was a privilege to offer the Microsoft Eden Park corporate box to the Computer Clubhouse and their guests at the Fiji v Samoa pool match.
The Computer Clubhouse is an NGO with the mission to provide young people access to relevant high-tech skills and experiences that result in jobs in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector. It mirrors current educational research which shows that adolescents learn most effectively when they are engaged in designing and creating projects, rather than memorizing facts or learning isolated skills out of context.
Supported in part by Microsoft New Zealand, the Computer Clubhouse programme has been enabling the teaching of tech skills since 2004, and currently operates five facilities, with seven more scheduled to open before the end of 2012.
Until now the Computer Clubhouse had focused on the development of youth in New Zealand. The proven model led to the exploration of expanding further afield and the expansion into Pacifica was celebrated on the day of the Fiji v Samoa match. On match day guests witnessed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Sam Chapman, Acting Chair of the Computer Clubhouse, and Lelei LeLaulu, Chairman of the Foundation of the Peoples of the South Pacific International (FSPI). This MOU is the first step in transferring this teaching model to countries such as Samoa, Tonga and Fiji.
Mike Usmar, CEO of the Computer Clubhouse Trust said, “The timing of the support by Microsoft was perfect for us at Computer Clubhouse. ‘Rugby Diplomacy’ enabled us to bring all the key players together in one space to talk through our strategy for Clubhouse in the Pacific. Microsoft continues to be an outstanding sponsor of the work in the region and this event was yet one more example of the close working relationship Microsoft New Zealand has with the wider community.”
“‘Rugby Diplomacy’ enabled us to bring all the key players together in one space to talk through our strategy for Clubhouse in the Pacific. Microsoft continues to be an outstanding sponsor of the work in the region and this event was yet one more example of the close working relationship Microsoft New Zealand has with the wider community.” - Mike Usmar, CEO of the Computer Clubhouse Trust
Microsoft Philippines hosted two NGO Connection days on 8 and 10 November 2011 to help the organizations learn how to leverage information technology (IT) to better serve the community.
For the event, Microsoft worked with the Philippines Business for Social Progress (PBSP), the Bacolod Negros Occidental Federation for ICT (BNEFIT) and the Cebu Educational Development Foundation for Information Technology (CEDFIT) to present a range of IT solutions. These included Microsoft® Office 2010, SharePoint ®, Windows Live®, Microsoft Lync® and Microsoft Dynamics®. These solutions help address different needs of the NGOs, from collaboration, communication and networking to document storage.
John Bessey, General Manager of Microsoft Philippines, welcomes Governor Marañon to the event.
Ms Santos, IT Head of Gawad Kalinga speaking about their experience in technology planning.
Nearly 250 NGO staff benefitted from the event with takeaways that will help them immediately in their daily operations. For example, a good number of Bacolod participants that did not have email accounts before the NGO Connection Day went back to their office to create their own Windows Live accounts after realizing the benefits of email as a means of communication. Creating the accounts was fast, inexpensive and easy.
The NGO Connection Day was also a good avenue for participants to share concerns and exchange solutions. One of the concerns brought up was that of security of NGO data. NGOs were resistant to adopting cloud computing because they were afraid of data exposure on the web. Although this risk was not unfounded, Microsoft Philippines’ national technology officer Dondi Mapa said there were two solutions. NGOs could either find cloud providers who guaranteed to return client data at the end of the service, or find providers that offered a combination of public and private cloud services to cater to different security needs.
This was only one of a series of solutions that Microsoft provided to NGOs serving different community needs. Hilda Cleofe, Executive Director of Corporate Network for Disaster Response (CNDR), said “With Sharepoint, we were able to quickly manage our information and respond to various disaster management efforts in the community.”
SharePoint also helps other types of NGOs like Gaward Kalinga, a foundation focused on empowering and instilling positive values in the people. Mr Isaa Santos-Cuevas, IT Head and Board Member of Gaward Kalinga, said that SharePoint helped Gaward Kalinga access vital information in its daily backbone operations, and essentially do what they do best, empower the community.
With the success of these two NGO Connection Days, Microsoft moves closer to its goal of making 70 million lives better by 2012.
“With Microsoft SharePoint, our organization has been able to facilitate online collaboration of our files and access vital information that help us in our daily backbone operations.” - Issa Santos-Cuevas, IT Head and Board Member of Gaward Kalinga
“With Microsoft SharePoint, we were able to quickly manage our information and respond to various disaster management efforts in the community.” - Hilda Cleofe, Executive Director of Corporate Network for Disaster Response (CNDR)
Microsoft Asia Pacific organized a workshop in Manila to educate nonprofit organizations on how to fully utilize the merits of social media. Heather Mansfield, the founder of DIOSA Communications, was invited to share her years of experience in social media at the workshop. Twenty-three representatives from 20 nonprofit organizations, who are strategic partners and Microsoft beneficiaries of software donations, attended the workshop. Additionally, five students who are aspiring to be part of the 2012 Imagine Cup finals in Australia were also invited.
Many non-profit organizations are on the lookout for fresh and creative ways to communicate with their audience. Hence, there is greater emphasis on the use of social media today as a means for interaction. However, many employees in nonprofit organizations are often handling multiple roles, and are also not technologically savvy enough to understand how social media works.
As the principal blogger at Non-profit Tech 2.0, Miss Mansfield is also the author of a guidebook for nonprofit organizations, “Social Media for Social Good”. The workshop proved to be highly beneficial as attendees were able to learn much from Miss Mansfield’s 15 years of experience in social media and nonprofit communication. The participants not only learned more about social media, but also its ability to propel their public visibility to greater heights.
Nonprofit organizations learn how to maximize social media for social good.
With the aid of Microsoft solutions such as Windows Live Writer®, Windows Live Photo Gallery® and Windows Movie Maker®, Miss Mansfield was able to educate the attendees on the use of such solutions to engage the public. They learned how to translate data to a HyperText Markup Language (HTML) script via Windows Live Writer®. They also found out about the capabilities of the Windows Live account, which allows users to store 25 gigabytes of data for free. Furthermore, Hootsuite™, a social media communications dashboard, was able to help participants manage their social media updates.
Ace Diloy, the advocacy officer for Stairway Foundation Inc, was pleased with how much he learned from the workshop. “This has totally changed my view on how social web should be utilized.”
“I’ve also learned quite a bit about Windows Live, Photo Gallery, Movie Maker and Live Writer – a suite of free tools that could definitely help nonprofits better tell their story through social media.” - Heather Mansfield, Blogger, Nonprofit Tech 2.0
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