On 19 April, Microsoft partnered with the ASEAN Foundation and the Thailand Research Centre of Communications and Development Knowledge Management (CCDKM) to jointly launch a training programme aimed at enhancing the information and communication technology (ICT) skills of new business startups and young entrepreneurs in the Southeast Asia region.

Part of Microsoft’s global YouthSpark initiative, the new ‘Enhancing ICT Skills of Small Medium Enterprises in ASEAN’ programme will provide aspiring entrepreneurs aged between 16 and 25 with improved access to technology to empower them to start their own business or create their own opportunities. A grant amounting to USD300,000 has been reserved to support the needs and provide training resources for the entrepreneurs taking part in this programme — with the ultimate goal of addressing unemployment rates among youth in Southeast Asia.

The pilot phase of the programme, which would span a period of 24 months, is expected to reach more than 20,000 people and close to 1,000 businesses in Indonesia, Thailand, the Philippines and Vietnam.  

In Thailand, the training programme will be conducted by ASEAN Foundation and the CCDKM in Bangkok and Chiang Mai, where the development and delivery of the curriculum is tailored to empower young entrepreneurs with technology skills to grow and sustain their ventures.

“Since its establishment in Thailand 20 years ago, Microsoft has been committed to developing and improving lives through technology. The implementation of this project allows us to take the next step in closing the opportunity gap by providing young people with the access, skills and opportunities to be successful entrepreneurs,” said Siriporn Pajharawat, Developer and Platform Strategy Director of Microsoft Thailand.

The young entrepreneurs that display the most potential, as nominated by the CCDKM, will be selected for an e-Business Incubation Programme, through which they will receive further mentorship and assistance. The top-performing entrepreneurs also have the chance to showcase their projects in Indonesia at the end of the programme.

Ajie Akhmad Wahidin, Senior Programme Officer of the ASEAN Foundation, said, “We recognise the significance of technology and ICT skills to addressing unemployment rates among young people in the region. Through this partnership with Microsoft and CCDKM, the ASEAN Foundation will be able to extend the reach of the programme and provide young entrepreneurs across the region with the basic skills training they need.”

“This project allows us to provide young people with the access, skills and opportunities to be successful entrepreneurs.”

Siriporn Pajharawat, Developer and Platform Strategy Director, Microsoft Thailand