TechSoup Global was founded in 1987 as CompuMentor, with the objective of helping nonprofit organisations around the world make better use of information technology (IT) to broaden the impact of their work. Currently headquartered in San Francisco, USA, and also operating from its London and Warsaw offices, TechSoup Global also collaborates with businesses and foundations to optimise their philanthropic contributions.
In an effort to expand its capacity building efforts for nonprofits and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) outside of North America, the TechSoup Global Network was set up in 2005 to establish an online platform to connect and build the capacity of its network partners and the nonprofit sector locally in each partner country.
Each network partner is empowered to expand their services and provide technology resources to cater to the specific needs of nonprofits in their respective countries. And through the support of the TechSoup Global Network, qualified nonprofits are able to acquire donated or discounted IT products at a nominal administrative fee.
The TechSoup Global Network currently serves nonprofits in more than 40 countries.
The Challenge: Connecting NGOs to Foster Deeper Engagements
As the TechSoup Global Network continues to expand, the organisation needs to keep up with operational demands by facilitating communications and information exchange between its 200 employees and 75 volunteer workers — as well as with its global network partners.
“We found that reliable communications is integral to raising the level of engagement between our staff and our network partners who are working on the ground to deliver technology assistance programmes and localised services. Through the TechSoup Global Network, we have been able to provide improved access to technology donations and capacity development resources to a growing number of nonprofits,” said Glenn Fajardo, Global Network Launch Manager at TechSoup Global.
Due to the prohibitive cost of international voice calls, TechSoup Global required a more cost-effective alternative to strengthen engagement with its network partners.
The Solution: Using Skype for Cost-Effective Collaboration and Communications
TechSoup Global decided in 2007 to get its staff signed up for Skype across the organisation to minimise the cost of international calls and to conduct video conferencing online in an efficient manner. Basic Skype services are available worldwide and across different hardware — allowing TechSoup Global staff and network partners to collaborate more easily and make quality voice calls, conduct video chats and send instant messages (IM) at no cost.
According to Mr Fajardo, TechSoup Global further invested in Skype Premium accounts for a number of its key executives, enabling group video calls with up to 10 people to be conducted across multiple countries.
The Benefits: Advanced Call Capabilities with Significant Cost Savings
Skype's main benefit is that it allows TechSoup Global staff to make free phone calls to Skype users and low-cost calls to those not using Skype. It also allows them to communicate with greater ease, helping to forge stronger working relationships with network partners around the world. Skype is also a critical tool for allowing TechSoup Global to connect its offices in San Francisco, Warsaw and London.
“The effective use of Skype — for one-to-one and group IM, as well as voice and video calls — enables a deeper sense of connection between our people, which ultimately leads to better results in terms of work efficiency,” Mr Fajardo said.
The cost savings achieved through Skype have been significant. TechSoup Global is now able to minimise cost incurred from international phone calls and, using the Skype Premium account, conduct low-cost video conferencing across disparate locations to communicate more effectively with its network partners.
Based in the Philippines, Gawad Kalinga is one such organisation that has been working closely with TechSoup Global to make use of new communications platforms to enhance the effectiveness and impact of their community work. Gawad Kalinga's objective is to alleviate poverty for five million families in the Philippines by 2024.
“Gawad Kalinga is all about building strong relationships, and Skype has been a valuable tool in helping us maintain a sense of genuine connection with our strategic partners such as TechSoup Global. While there can be no complete substitute for interpersonal interactions, the use of Skype video conferencing has allowed us to see thefacial expressions of our partners in San Francisco! It’s that extra human touch that helps in fostering trust and connection, which are key to building sustainable partnerships,” said Issa Cuevas-Santos, Director for Systems and IT at Gawad Kalinga.
Skype has improved communications and connection between TechSoup Global and their international network partners to deliver services. Skype enables the organisation to reach more nonprofits across the globe and provide them easier access to the resources and technology know-how they need — to better deliver on their mission of social benefit.
This is part of a series of YouthSpark profiles where we highlight young people in Asia who are dedicated to changing the world through technology, and inspiring others along the way.
NAME: NUR NADIAH BTE ZAILANI
BioInspired by their shared passion for innovative ideas and community services, Nur Nadiah Binte Zailani and her fellow students from Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP) collaborated to create a software application aimed at improving the lives of the elderly. The software application was developed to help address dementia, a key health issue faced by the aged, by streamlining its therapy process. The innovative concept clinched Nadiah’s team a spot in the 2012 Imagine Cup Worldwide Finals — the only polytechnic team from Singapore to successfully advance to the second round of the Finals.Tell us one exciting thing that you have been working on in the past 3 – 6 months.Participating in the Imagine Cup was definitely a memorable experience, especially in getting together with my Imagine Cup team members from another faculty to develop the Dementia Assistance Recall Engine (DARE) application. (My team members Koh Kai Wei, Eustace Zheng Xiangwen, Mong Yunheng are from the School of Information Technology, while I’m from the School of Health Sciences.) We plan to further conduct clinical trials for this software application.What are some of the challenges facing youth today that concern you the most?Young people around the world face considerable educational disparity due to the differences in background and learning capabilities. I believe we should try to provide equal opportunities for all to gain access to education or to pick up relevant skills. There is also a growing concern about the effects of stress on young people, caused by peer pressure, family issues and academic pursuits.If you had the ability to create one change in the world, what would that be and how can technology help you achieve this change?One change I hope to make would be to facilitate more effective communications between people around the world — in spite of significant barriers such as language and geography. While technology has proven to be effective in facilitating communications, I think more can be done in terms of understanding each other and gaining fresh perspectives on the social challenges we face.
I aspire to... lead a life that is full of purpose, and to continue helping those who are in need. I hope to be able to contribute something that has a long-lasting, positive impact on the world.
Microsoft Thailand has received an award from the American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM) for being one of 34 companies that carried out exemplary corporate social responsibility (CSR) programmes in 2012.
This marks the third consecutive year in which Microsoft Thailand has been recognised under the AMCHAM Corporate Social Responsibility Excellence Recognition Programme (ACE). The ACE recognition was presented to Microsoft on 23 November 2012 for its Building Employability Through Technology and Entrepreneurship Resources (BETTER) programme, which is focused on building information technology (IT) capacity and generating better job opportunities in Thailand.
Microsoft also garnered the Silver Status Award, a special accolade presented to companies that receive the ACE recognition for three consecutive years.
Joe Mannix, AMCHAM Thailand President said, “This is a very special day for Microsoft and I would like to congratulate them for three straight years of ACE excellence recognition. This is actually Microsoft’s fifth ACE award so far – a truly proud accomplishment. Microsoft has continuously and creatively implemented its CSR projects by deploying its unique IT expertise around the country. The result is that this company has transformed Thailand’s knowledge economy and elevated Thai society.”
Microsoft Thailand was also recognised for its US Creative Partnership programme, which builds knowledge-economy job skills by engaging Thai workers in public and private development. Microsoft’s CSR projects are aimed at building long-term economic and social growth in Thailand, as well as enabling employees and partners to participate by sharing its collective knowledge and effective working guidelines.
Desarack Teso, Legal and Corporate Affairs Director of Microsoft Thailand, said, “The BETTER project is aligned with one of the key priorities of the Thai government to enhance the skills of the Thai workforce, as part of the build-up to regional integration under the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) in 2015. BETTER programmes are developed in close collaboration with the Department of Skill Development and the Ministry of Labour in Thailand, as well as the Kenan Institute Asia, to keep the curriculum relevant to current IT education requirements — by including Microsoft® Office, Internet basics and Cloud System Management software.”
“Microsoft has continuously and creatively implemented its CSR projects by deploying its unique IT expertise around the country.”
- Joe Mannix, President, AMCHAM Thailand
Today’s young people face an opportunity divide—a gap between those who have the access, skills and opportunities to be successful and those who do not. Closing the gap through entrepreneurship is one of the most important initiatives to secure the future of the Indonesian and global economies. According to Aprizal Kusai, Assistant Deputy of Human Resources, State Ministry of Cooperatives and SMEs, the ideal number of sustainable entrepreneurs for the country is a minimum of 2 percent of the population, or around 4.6 million people.
To discuss this issue, about 50,000 budding entrepreneurs from Jakarta, Bogor, Depok, Tangerang, Bekasi, Banten and West Java met in Jakarta’s Gelora Bung Karno Stadium. The gathering marks the third year of the National Entrepreneurship Movement. Held on 18 March, the event was hosted by the State Ministry of Cooperatives and SMEs, Republic of Indonesia, with the theme of Spirit of Global Entrepreneurship. The participants were honoured by the attendance of Dr Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, President of the Republic of Indonesia; Ani Yudhoyono, the First Lady; Joko Widodo, the Governor of Jakarta; 12 ministers, more than 10 ambassadors, and a number of members of Indonesia’s parliament.
At the Movement, Dr Akhtar Badshah, Senior Director of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Microsoft, announced the launch of the company’s YouthSpark programme for Indonesia and the programme’s endorsement from the State Ministry of Cooperatives and SMEs. He told the crowd that Microsoft has already reached 66 million young people globally through YouthSpark, providing them with valuable IT resources.
“In the next three years, the goal is to empower 300 million young entrepreneurs to make positive changes in their own world,” Dr Badshah said. He also described the programmes through which social entrepreneurs could achieve their dreams—such as Microsoft’s Imagine Cup, DreamSpark, BizPark and Microsoft Innovation Centers.
Dr Badshah concluded with four critical steps to reach sustainable social entrepreneurship and to practice compassion in business:
The event was followed the next day by two Innovate for Good seminars. Facilitated by Dr Badshah, the sessions were attended by 150 guests including 75 young entrepreneurs, 10 media participants, officials from the State Ministry of Cooperatives and SMEs and SMESCO, as well as Veronica Colondam, CEO and Founder of YCAB Foundation. The lively discussions centred on how the Microsoft initiatives are helping entrepreneurs on the ground, as well as real stories of IT business people who have succeeded.
Andreas Diantoro, President Director, Microsoft Indonesia, said, “Our partnership with the State Ministry of Cooperatives and SMEs and bringing a senior leader from Microsoft such as Akhtar demonstrate our commitment to fulfil Microsoft’s mission to support Indonesian people, especially the younger generations, to develop their IT potential. Microsoft’s goal is to support the nation to become a knowledge-based society by 2025.”
Since its launch in September 2012, Microsoft Taiwan’s GIRLS Power Up internship programme has been steadily picking up momentum in helping bring young and aspiring businesswomen in Taiwan another step closer to becoming entrepreneurs.
The first internship programme for female college students in Taiwan to feature long-term collaborations between academic institutions and corporate entities, GIRLS Power Up was first initiated at the Taipei Chengshih University of Science and Technology (TPCU), National Chung Hsing University and WuFeng University. The programme aims to provide the skills training and practical experience needed for young women to succeed in their future ‘micro business venture’ pursuits.
To date, about 180 female students have participated in the programme and were successfully matched to 36 ‘micro-internship’ teams to experience running a business venture and hone their entrepreneurial interests. Microsoft Taiwan further provided support by organising training courses to help participants sharpen their social networking and online marketing skills.
Vincent Shih, Legal and Corporate Affairs Director at Microsoft Taiwan, said, “The main purpose of the GIRLS Power Up programme is to provide a platform for young Taiwanese women to take the first step in digital learning through small-scale business ventures, which entail less risk and help them develop their entrepreneurial potential. This internship programme is designed to enable them to pick up the critical skills and knowledge to cope with the challenges of operating a business venture.”
On 23 January, Microsoft held a press conference to drum up greater awareness and interest for the GIRLS Power Up programme. During the event, several students were invited to share their learning experiences.
Hsieh You-Qi, a business administration student at TPCU, said, “As an online marketer, I need to learn how to differentiate product offerings and leverage social media to effectively market new products to my target customers. Thanks to GIRLS Power Up, I now have a deeper understanding of many aspects of entrepreneurship. I hope to use what I’ve learned to fulfil my dreams of setting up my own business in the future.”
Entrepreneur Sally Wang told the audience how her company gained from offering these internship opportunities, mainly through the exchange of fresh ideas about online marketing with the students.
“The students that I’ve worked with are fully dedicated to this programme, and I am really thankful to have this chance to interact with this group of students. I am most impressed by their positive attitude and creative marketing ideas,” Ms Wang added.
Hsin-Chung Lien, President of TPCU, said, “Our goal is to help students successfully enter the job market after they graduate. We are glad to participate in the GIRLS Power Up programme because it has created a new channel of linking education and the workplace, by providing our students with unique internship opportunities.”
“Thanks to GIRLS Power Up, I have a deeper understanding of many aspects of entrepreneurship. I hope to use what I’ve learned to fulfil my dreams of setting up my own business in the future.”
Hsieh You-Qi, TPCU Student
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