May, 2013

  • 'Youth Solutions!' Empowers Youth Led NGOs in South Asia

    According to the World Bank, South Asia created nearly 800,000 jobs per month between 2000 and 2010. However, despite growth, the region is still home to half a billion of the world’s poorest people. Since labor is the primary asset of the poor, having more and better jobs is the key employment challenge facing the region.

    Through a collaborative grant programme, jointly organized by the World Bank, Microsoft Sri Lanka and Sarvodaya-Fusion, four innovative solutions, designed by youth-led NGOs from Bangladesh, Nepal, the Maldives and Sri Lanka, were selected winners at a regional grant competition. Called ‘Youth Solutions!’, the programme encouraged young people to help solve employment challenges through the use of information technology (IT).

    From the original 80 project proposals submitted, Shilpa Sayura Foundation from Sri Lanka, YPSA from Bangladesh, YUWA from Nepal and Live & Learn Environmental Education from the Maldives were the winners of the competition. The criteria used to determine the winners included how the proposals used innovative and creative methods to promote IT skills amongst youth, helping them secure gainful employment; the capacity to demonstrate solutions to challenges faced by youth; and how the proposal encouraged innovation, learning and sharing.

    Each winning project received a grant between $15,000 and $20,000 to carry out a youth-led project for one year, with the possibility of being scaled up via other public or private sector initiatives.

    The high profile panel of judges comprised of Gabriela Aguilar, Senior Communications Officer for World Bank, South Asia; Sriyan de Silva Wijeyeratne, Country Manager, Microsoft Sri Lanka; Anurag Kak, Managing Director, Lafarge Mahaweli Cement (Pvt) Ltd.; Ms Moji Akingbade, General Manager of Avery Dennison Lanka (Pvt) Ltd; and Gaurav Mishra, Asia Vice President of Insights, Innovation & Social, MSLGROUP.

    Gabriela Aguilar said, “This grant programme conducted by the World Bank and Microsoft is an exciting opportunity to find and fund new solutions to youth unemployment in this region. South Asia is home to a large youth population, with over 1 million entering the labor force every month.”

    We are proud to present a summary of the winning teams and their proposals:

    Sri Lanka’s Shilpa Sayura Foundation, an organization aimed at empowering youth through ICT skills, will help youth produce 10 high impact films on current social issues. The project, titled “Digital Rainbow”, will train at least 100 youth to become film makers, a still developing industry in the country.

    Young Power in Social Action (YPSA), an organization dedicated to supporting and empowering socially marginalized groups in Bangladesh, aims to support the smooth transition to work of people with disabilities through the use of ICT training, ICT internships, relevant job search support and producing Digital Accessible Information System (DAISY) products.

    Live & Learn Environmental Education, an organization from the Maldives, aims to reduce poverty by working towards sustainable development with strong partnerships. Their project includes improving production and marketing of craft through an online portal. Youth will be engaged in training that would equip them with the ICT skills to make profitable employment through linking the segregated handicraft industry with the market.

    YUWA, a Nepali youth led organization, plan to use comprehensive e-learning methodology to equip youth with relevant ICT skills to improve employability. It will use blended technology organized in a comprehensive Learning Management System including new media, such as YouTube and podcasts to educate youth.

    Janakie Karunarathne, Manager, Community Affairs, Microsoft Sri Lanka, said, “Microsoft is proud to have collaborated with the World Bank in this effort to capture the youthful enthusiasm and innovative aspirations of four countries. The youth NGOs chosen today from each country would work towards alleviating the challenges, such as lack of skills and unemployment in their individual countries through the use of ICT.”

  • Refreshing Ideas at Thailand’s Innovate for Good Event

    More than 80 young people —including beneficiaries from various Microsoft programmes, youth representatives from non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and young Microsoft employees — came together for the first ever staging of the Microsoft Innovate for Good event in Thailand to discuss the use of technology to bridge the opportunity gap for youth.

    This event is part of Microsoft’s global YouthSpark initiative.

  • More Power to the Youth! India Hosts Innovate for Good

    This story was originally posted on the Microsoft India Blog on 9 May.

    Over 100 enthusiastic youth from 10 states across India participated inthe first ever Innovate for Good @India Summit in New Delhi in April. The action-packed event harnessed the collective power of Microsoft India toinspire positive change and collaboration among the next generation. 

    When Poornima, a youth participant from Delhi at the two-day summit declared that the event had reinforced her plan to go back and work with a non-profit organization, the crowd cheered! It cheered again, when another participant, Natasha Taraporewala from Pune, stated that she wants to change society’s approach to dealing with disabilities from a medical solution to a social one.

    These are just a couple of the change-making instances that happened at the first India edition of Innovate for Good that helped a cross section of young people collaborate, inspire and support each other by using technology.

    Microsoft India invited over 100 youth beneficiaries from various Microsoft non-profit partners, youth organizations and others who have participated in Microsoft initiatives such as Project Jyoti and Imagine Cup.

    The vibrant event, facilitated by Microsoft India’s event partner QUEST Alliance and hosted in partnership with the United States Department of State, Office of Global Youth Issues, aimed to provide the attendees with the skills to transform their ideas into viable social enterprises. To get a sense of the exciting proceedings, watch a video of the event and check the photo gallery

    Arun Rajamani, Group Director, Public Sector, Microsoft India, presented the keynote address. He reiterated Microsoft’s commitment to the community, especially towards the youth of India through the YouthSpark initiative, and stressed the importance of skills training and developing a spirit of entrepreneurship in delivering a real impact for India. He personally committed to keeping engaged with the community and encouraged Microsoft employees to provide mentorship to the budding entrepreneurs.

    Another major highlight of the event was the practice tests of the Microsoft Office Specialist certification exam along with free vouchers to take the final certification course. Going forward, successful participants will be encouraged to showcase their projects on the Innovate for Good online community and take part in the Seed Funding for Innovation challenge.

    Microsoft is committed to creating opportunities for youth by providing access to tools, programmes and resources to help them realize their full potential. Innovate for Good brings together youth from around the world in local events and in a global online community to provide support for their ideas on making a difference. YouthSpark is a companywide initiative designed to empower hundreds of millions of youth globally and help them turn their innovative concepts into viable social ventures.

  • Innovate for Good: Bridging the Opportunity Divide with IT in Thailand

    Microsoft Thailand collaborated with the National Council for Children and Youth Development (NCYD) to host an Innovate for Good event in Bangkok in April.

    More than 80 young people —including beneficiaries from various Microsoft programmes, youth representatives from non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and young Microsoft employees — came together during the event to discuss the use of technology to bridge the opportunity gap for youth.

    As part of the Microsoft YouthSpark programme, the Thailand edition of Innovate for Good is aimed at helping young people transform their innovative ideas into viable social ventures. During the event, Microsoft technology, such as Kinect® and Office 365™, were showcased to demonstrate how they can be best utilised. Participants were also given the opportunity to interact with social entrepreneurs and developers and received valuable feedback on how to refine their projects.                                      

    Taritha Satarn, one of the event participants, said, “Innovate for Good is a great platform to network with our peers and share ideas on the development of social projects through technology, such as how to eradicate poverty and address other common social issues in Thailand.”

    Many creative ideas were shared and discussed among the participants, with 13 projects chosen to be further developed. Some of these projects include:

    • ‘Political Dashboard’, a tool that helps raise awareness of public policies and issues to counter corruption in developing countries
    • ‘Wheel-Go-Round’, an online platform that provides information on wheelchair-friendly locations to enable disabled and the elderly to move around more freely  
    • ‘Smart Recycle Box’, a project aimed at promoting recycling efforts by estimating the cost savings generated for different types of recycled materials

    These project ideas will also be showcased on the Innovate for Good Online Community where youth can share their experiences in using technology to make a difference in their communities. This online community will be the main platform that will bring to life the expertise, advice and lessons learned that Microsoft has to share with
    young people around the world — to inspire and support them as they work to create and drive social change. 

    Siriporn Pajharawat, Developer and Platform Evangelism (DPE) Director, Microsoft Thailand, said, “Socially conscious youth are playing an increased role in addressing social issues and driving social change in Thailand. Innovate for Good is designed to support these young people in their endeavours to make a positive contribution to their communities, and is part of our commitment to facilitate youth-oriented innovation around the world.”

    Learn more about Microsoft's Innovate for Good and YouthSpark programmes.

  • YouthSpark Profile: Gianisse Marie Adamantopoulos

    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.









    A student at De La Salle University, Gianisse Marie Adamantopoulos, also known as ‘Gigi’, combines her passion for music and technology by reaching out to other young, like-minded music enthusiasts in the Philippines. She aspires to introduce young people to the latest software, online materials and social media as an alternate avenue to realise their talents and achieve their musical ambitions. An avid musician, Gigi enjoys creating her own music in her free time.

    Tell us one exciting thing that you have been working on in the past 3–6 months.

    I belong to a school team that recently implemented the Microsoft Student Partners Programme. Over the past few months, we have been playing an active role in encouraging both freshmen and sophomore students at our school to embrace the use of technology to solve common issues that they may face on a daily basis. Besides my involvement with this school-related project, I have been trying my hand at producing sound mixes and musical recordings with the use of a variety of music software.

    What are some of the challenges facing youth today that concern you the most?

    I find that my generation tends to experience the pressures of life at a much earlier age. Among my peers, there are a lot of young people who are already feeling overwhelmed by practical considerations, such as the need to earn a good living to sustain their needs, and end up conforming to social norms — rather than pursuing their own dreams to create something that is truly new and innovative.

    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?

    I would like to reach out to young people across the world and share with them the message that new technology, such as social media platforms, can help change their lives and shape a better future. Using social media, I want to do my part in spreading the message that technology enables them to continue pursuing their dreams and ambitions, without having to sacrifice their civic duties or personal obligations.

    I’m inspired by… those who are willing to persevere against all odds in order to find success in their lives and careers.

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