November, 2012

  • Opening New Career Paths for Rural Residents in India

    Microsoft has been collaborating with the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP) India since 2005 to set up Community Based Technology Learning Centres (CTLCs) across the states of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar, providing underprivileged people with better access to Information Technology (IT) training.

    Training provided at the CTLC has improved the lives of many individuals, such as Sangeetaben Ramanbhai Vasava

    The collaboration is part of Microsoft's Community Technology Skills Programme, which was launched in India in August 2004 as Project Jyoti. As part of the initiative, Microsoft India partners with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to support various programmes aimed at empowering under-served individuals through the use of IT. The establishment of more than 1,400 CTLCs, in partnership with 14 NGOs in 27 Indian states, is one of the cornerstones of Project Jyoti’s success.

    More than 450,000 people have been trained at the CTLCs — out of which, more than 300,000 people have been placed in jobs or were helped to start their own enterprise through the initiative. At the CTLCs, rural residents are equipped with IT and non-IT related skills to secure employment in urban areas, thus helping to narrow both the digital divide and the technology skills gap between urban and rural residents.

    The growing number of people who have benefited from the services of the CTLCs established by Microsoft and AKRSP India illustrate the positive impact on marginalised communities across the three Indian states.

    Having personally gained from CTLC services, Yatin Kumar is eager to spread the word about the importance of computer skills to villagers

    “Computer training from the CTLC has helped me make a decent earning,” said Yatin Kumar, an employee with the Union Bank of India in Bihar. “I was toiling as a labourer until I enrolled in computer courses with the CTLC. Today, my life has changed and improved significantly, and I am helping to spread the word about the benefits of computers.”

    Sangeetaben Ramanbhai Vasava is another rural resident whose life has been enriched after joining a computer course at the CTLC. A widow in need of financial support to raise her two children, Ms Sangeetaben was recruited as a part-time IT trainer at a CTLC in Gujarat state and later secured a stable job at the International Rural Education & Cultural Association (INRECA).

    "The CTLC has given a new life to me and my children, helping me to find a means of livelihood when I needed it most," Ms Sangeetaben said. "I hope the Centre will continue to help people like me for years to come." 

  • TechSoup Makes it Easier for US Foundations to Support NGOs in Asia

    TechSoup partners with Microsoft to deliver technology donations and supporting services to the Asia Pacific region. Over the past year, we have been bringing donated technology from Microsoft and other tech companies to Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines through www.techsoup.asia. In the coming months, we’ll be extending our reach to Indonesia and Vietnam as well.

    Now we are pleased to announce an exciting addition to our programmes that will facilitate international grantmaking in Asia.

    On 24 September, the US Department of the Treasury and Internal Revenue Service put forth a significant rule change designed to reduce the effort and cost for US foundations to make grants to international NGOs. Traditionally, foundations had to independently research each grantee in order to comply with U.S. tax laws; now, they will be able to rely on the opinion of a qualified third party provider. TechSoup has partnered with the Council on Foundations to provide this service, which will be called NGOsource. The launch for this new programme is currently slated for early 2013. Foundations that support this endeavor include Rockefeller, Hewlett, Bill and Melinda Gates, and many others.

    “TechSoup is committed to serving the needs of NGOs in the Asia Pacific region. The addition of this service will significantly increase our value to the community and the benefits of participation for NGOs. We encourage all NGOs to sign up at www.techsoup.asia or their local country site,” said Mike Yeaton, Vice President of TechSoup Asia.

    It will now be easier than ever for foundations to make grants to NGOs in the Asia Pacific region. When a foundation wishes to make a grant, they will enter a request through a grantmaker portal. TechSoup and its partners will then work with the recipient NGO to complete and evaluate the required documentation, a process known as ‘equivalency determination’. Once this is complete, the documentation will be valid for any other participating foundation wishing to make a grant to the same NGO during a qualifying period.

    “NGOsource will make global giving more accessible to the entire grantmaking community. Our collaboratively-developed process will save grantmakers and grantees valuable time and resources, enabling increased focus on mission-related work and scaling impact. We are thrilled that the US Treasury’s recent guidance now enables us to launch this pioneering venture,” said Sheila Warren, Director of NGOsource for TechSoup Global, and an attorney with expertise on tax-exempt law.

    To keep up to date on the programmes and plans, we invite all interested NGOs to sign up for the newsletters at www.techsoup.asia and www.ngosource.org.

    More information about TechSoup Global and our partners can be found at www.techsoupglobal.org.

  • Microsoft Korea Volunteers Organise Trip for Children with Special Needs

    In early August, a group of 14 Microsoft Korea volunteers accompanied seven young children from the Amsa Rehabilitation Center on a trip to enjoy the natural environment of Namhansansung.

    The Amsa Rehabilitation Center in Seoul provides specialised care and medical treatment for young children with special needs in South Korea. Many of the children at the Amsa Rehabilitation Center face considerable constraints in travelling outdoors because of their disabilities. The volunteer team from Microsoft Korea, named “Together”, took the initiative to organise a trip to Namhansansung, providing these children the chance to experience the wonders of nature during the summer season.

    Microsoft Korea volunteers enjoy a fun-filled morning at Namhansansung with children from the Amsa Rehabilitation Center

    For more than five years the “Together” team of 35 employees has been volunteering at the Amsa Rehabilitation Center on the first Saturday of each month. The volunteers usually get together to plan ahead for their monthly visit in order to create a series of enriching programmes that the children can actively participate in. Past activities have included cooking and origami sessions, which were greatly enjoyed by the children.

    On the trip, each child was accompanied by two volunteers, who were assigned to take care of their needs. The children were clearly in high spirits, as they spent a fun and relaxing morning at a mountain stream near Namhansansung. After swimming for three hours, they ended the trip on a high note with an enjoyable outdoor lunch before heading back to Seoul.

    Microsoft Korea volunteers enjoy a fun-filled morning at Namhansansung with children from the Amsa Rehabilitation Center

    “The children were very excited about the occasion, and their excitement really showed when they all started singing together with us on the bus trip to Namhansansung,” said Bryan Do, DIR BG Lead of Microsoft Korea.

    The dedication and teamwork displayed by the “Together” volunteers were duly recognised when the Social Welfare Society put up an appreciation plaque for Microsoft Korea in honour of their activities. 

    We are delighted to have the opportunity to spend time enjoying the outdoors with the children, and we hope to continue promoting the spirit of volunteerism.”

    - Bryan Do, DIR BG Lead, Microsoft Korea

  • Microsoft Singapore Raises Funds to Help Young People Overcome Disadvantages

    The Children-At-Risk Empowerment (CARE) Association of Singapore is one of six selected beneficiaries of the Dollar Matching programme recently launched by Microsoft Singapore this year to increase its fundraising support to nonprofit groups in Singapore.

    Established in 1997, CARE Singapore is a registered charity and a youth development agency that provides school-based social work services, especially in reaching out to youth at risk of academic failure, behavioural problems and delinquency. CARE's work is funded by government grants and donations from corporations or individuals. Donations made by Microsoft and its employees will contribute significantly to enriching the lives of more than 1,000 young people.

    Microsoft will match the donated sum made by its Singapore employees (up to SGD500 per employee) to support various CARE projects, which are designed to motivate, inspire and redirect at-risk children toward positive life choices. Microsoft’s donations to CARE Singapore are coordinated by Ammado, one of Microsoft’s global nonprofit partners.

    “Microsoft Singapore employees are committed to supporting CARE Singapore in impacting the lives of young people in Singapore. Youth development is a core focus of Microsoft’s community outreach and philanthropy programmes worldwide, and we want to support our Singapore employees in raising funds to sustain CARE projects,” said Yun Seong Yong, General Manager, Microsoft Asia Pacific Operations Centre.

    The donation programme will go toward opening up more opportunities for CARE beneficiaries, such as secondary school student JY (not her real name), to develop and achieve their full potential. Abandoned by her parents since she was one, JY resorted to self-mutilation to cope with her emotional problems. The support she received through the CARE programme has helped JY to become more emotionally resilient and adopt a more positive attitude toward life.

    Adelyn Poh, Co-founder and Director of Enterprise at CARE Singapore, said, “In the past few years, CARE Singapore has been able to expand our youth development services, thanks to the generous support of our corporate sponsors such as Microsoft. Donations made by the Microsoft Singapore employees will enable our
    team to continue helping at-risk children gain confidence and overcome the social or economic disadvantages they face.”

  • Empowering Nonprofit Activities in the Philippines' Remote Municipalities

    Addressing the need for closer collaboration with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) outside the major metropolitan areas, Microsoft Philippines has launched the new NGO Tour initiative to support nonprofit activities conducted in more remote municipalities.

      Raul Cortez (left), Legal and Corporate Affairs Director of Microsoft Philippines, with Arcadio Gorriceta, Municipal Mayor of Pavia, at the NGO Tour seminar 

    The NGO Tour kicked off with a seminar held on 24 August in Pavia, a small town in Iloilo province. The seminar was focused on productivity training and was attended by 15 representatives from 12 nonprofit organisations who were given practical lessons on the use of the latest software to develop presentation materials and manage their organisation’s database.

    Each participant was asked to bring along their personal computers to the event, and Microsoft executives demonstrated how they could utilise them more efficiently for work purposes. Microsoft Most Valuable Professionals (MVPs) Eufer Passion and John Erwin Magno, product experts in Windows® 7 and Microsoft® PowerPoint respectively, conducted workshops that shared valuable tips and tricks to maximise the potential of Windows 7. The MVPs also previewed the tablet interface for Windows® 8 and the benefits of upgrading to Microsoft® Office 2010.

    During the event, Microsoft Citizenship specialist Cheryll Ann Selda shared with the participants more about the Citizenship programme, and how local NGOs can benefit from software donations through TechSoup Asia.

    The NGO Tour event was attended by the Honourable Arcadio Garriceta, the Municipal Mayor of Pavia, who expressed his appreciation for Microsoft’s support in helping NGOs to be more efficient in the delivery of a wide range of services to the local communities in Pavia.

    “While Microsoft has regularly organised NGO Connection Days in major cities such as Manila, Cebu and Bacolod, we wanted to do more by extending our support to NGOs who are working closely with the local government units in small towns and more remote municipalities across the Philippines,” said Raul Cortez, Legal and Corporate Affairs Director for Microsoft Philippines.  

    The NGO Tour was organised with the help of the Iloilo Caucus of Development NGOs (iCode), an umbrella NGO that assisted Microsoft in selecting the event venue and beneficiaries of the initiative. Emmanuel Areño, Executive Director of iCode, said, “We are helping NGOs provide services to local communities in the best possible manner, by extending access to educational modules, training and technology.”

    Microsoft can play an integral role in supporting NGOs by providing project management skills and other development training.”

    - Emmanuel Areño, Executive Director of iCode

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