November, 2013

  • The Leaderonomics Show with Akhtar Badshah

    From teaching at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to the founder of a nonprofit, Akhtar Badshah is now the Senior Director of Global Community Affairs at Microsoft Corporation where he administers the company’s global community investment and employee programs.  He was recently in Malaysia to share his views on business innovation and entrepreneurship at the 4th Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES).  In this interview with The Leadernomics Show, Akhtar talks about Citizenship and how individuals as well corporations who are interested in making positive social change and giving back to society, can get involved in doing social good. 

  • Fun(d)raising at President’s Challenge Ultimate Telematch

    By Aude Breteau, Marketing and Communications Manager, Microsoft Singapore

    It is satisfying and heart-warming to be able to directly benefit those who are less fortunate. I would have to say this is how many of us at Microsoft Singapore feel each year when we participate in the annual  President’s Challenge, as we reflect on the ways we can help those who are more vulnerable or less privileged.

    A team explains the inspiration behind their mascot design to President Tony Tan Keng Yam 

    This year, our fundraising event, The President’s Challenge Ultimate Telematch, was held on 25 October at Nanyang Polytechnic. The ‘competition’ had Microsoft colleagues, their families and over 30 beneficiaries from beneficiary organisations forming five teams of 12 to 16 members to complete four challenges.

    We have been working with Society for the Physically Disabled (SPD) and RSVP, The Organisation of Senior Volunteers for years as part of the President’s Challenge, so it was a hoot to compete against each other! All of us were a little thrown off by the last challenge that asked us to design a mascot for the President’s Challenge on the spot, but there is nothing a little creativity, some watermelon, balloons and ice-cream sticks cannot solve….

    We are really pleased to have been able to raise over SGD330,500 this year, and that the work we love—technology—can help reduce and eliminate barriers for people with disabilities. Since 2006, Microsoft has contributed a total of SGD1.9 million in cash and software to SPD, and over SGD730,000 to RSVP, with the funds going towards providing technology training for more than 1,900 people with disabilities and 15,476 seniors. More than 250 people with disabilities have undergone vocational training and 37 of them have found employment so far. Over 116 seniors subsequently found jobs in IT-related fields.

    Managing Director of Microsoft Singapore Jessica Tan (left) and Area Vice President of Asia Pacific Cesar Cernuda (right) present the cheque to President Tony Tan Keng Yam 

    This reminds me of what an optimistic young man named Tan Jian Hao (SPD beneficiary and first-year Engineering Informatics student at Nanyang Polytechnic) told my colleague Jocelyn at the event: “Life is like a marathon. Do not give up.” 

  • Designing for Better Elderly Care

    Family Long-term Care Centre has just two professional staff members—a nurse and a social worker, and 10 non-professional staff members, to take care of 24 senior citizens. Help was needed. Urgently.

    This situation is not uncommon in South Korea where social facilities and care services are trying to catch up with the increasing pressures from a population ageing so rapidly, the speed of which has been described as ‘unprecedented in human history’.

    According to the government, nearly one third of South Koreans will be aged 65 or older come 2040. As of 2011, among the OECD member countries reviewed, South Korea has the highest poverty rate among people over 66 years. These facts have far-reaching effects on the ability of older persons to live with dignity.

    The Family Long-term Care Centre captures a slice of this reality: its residents have neither income nor families that could take care of them. Located in Seongnam-dong, a 1.5 hour-drive from Seoul, the centre takes in residents with chronic or long-term health issues.

    Centres like this face many difficulties, one of which is the shortage of human resources and facilities. The centre’s staff had a hard time coping—on top of being responsible for five or six residents 24 hours a day, seven days a week, medical histories and other information were handwritten, making data management difficult.

    The staff knew that upgrading to a good information technology (IT) system would enable consistent and objective data management, and increase efficiency. They have also seen how customised information management systems in larger organisations improve care quality. Dong-hyun Lee, the centre manager, had the idea of developing a proper management solution for the centre, and was looking for ways to fund it.

    Microsoft Korea’s Community Affairs Manager Jin Hee Bae, who was looking for nonprofits to work with, said, “I was very impressed by the centre from the outset. Although its IT infrastructure is the poorest among all the nonprofits I’ve seen, the staff had such brilliant ideas that would need little investment to achieve a lot.”

    Jin Hee’s team and the centre staff, led by Dong-hyun, decided that Visual Studio, a set of integrated development tools for building applications for Windows, the web and mobile devices, was the most appropriate solution for the centre’s needs.

    With Microsoft Korea’s donation of the software, Dong-hyun developed an application called Elderly Long-term Care Management Solution (ELCMS). ELCMS enables those who have little IT knowledge to easily access and use the application, and increase work productivity. Staff can now upload and update patient data easily through smartphones. The nurse and social worker can also quickly and more accurately provide other staff with guidance. The time spent on data reporting has been reduced by one-tenth, and staff now spends more time on providing better care.

    A Microsoft team, including a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP), also assisted Dong-hyun with any technical and legal issues he faced.

    MVP giving advice for the app development.

    ELCMS proved to be such a success that the centre wants to make it more sophisticated. Dong-hyun is now working with MVPs who are cloud experts on moving the system to the cloud, and hopes that the centre can receive support in using Windows Azure or Surface devices. Furthermore, he wants to share the application, as well as his experience developing and using it, with other nonprofit organisations.

    Jin Hee says, “We want to help the residents by supporting the centre further down the road. ELCMS needs additional support for security and data overload issues, and to improve the use of the system. All of us in South Korea are very concerned with issues older persons face, and we are glad to be able to help, even if in a small way.”

  • Kiwis Get Social with Microsoft

    Last week over 80 nonprofit representatives in Christchurch and Wellington, New Zealand joined Microsoft for "Social Media for Social Good" workshops.  World-renowned blogger and best-selling author Heather Mansfield delivered the training, showcasing the best social media strategies to build awareness and increase fundraising for nonprofit causes and activities. 

    Heather Mansfield, Nonprofit Tech for Good with Belinda Gorman, Microsoft New Zealand

    The day included best practices from Twitter, Facebook and demonstrations using Windows 8 photo app Fotor and Windows 8 photo app Phototastic .  Attendees enjoyed the events immensely, tweeting throughout and very engaged with questions and comments.

    To read more about the event, take a look at the summary at Microsoft’s Corporate Citizenship page on Storify by clicking this link here.

    We hope you'll join us for future Microsoft's Technology for Good events in your city.  To find out more about upcoming events, please subscribe to our Tech4Good e-newsletter here.

  • Developing Apps to Help Develop the Economy

    Landlocked by two of the world’s fastest-growing economies, India and China, Nepal strikes a sharp contrast to its neighbours as it ranks among the poorest nations in the world. Agriculture remains the country’s predominant economic activity, providing employment to 80 percent of the population, yet it contributes to only a third of Nepal’s gross domestic product.

    As part of its initiative to stimulate the local information technology (IT) sector, Microsoft Innovation Center (MIC) Nepal teamed up with Neoteric, the Nokia distributor in Nepal, and its software partner, IT Nepal, to conduct a Windows Phone 8 application (app) development camp. This event was held from 10 June to 24 July 2013 at MIC Nepal, and comprised multiple five-day workshops for students to learn how to develop apps for Windows Phone 8.

    Allen Bailochan Tuladhar, Country Director of MIC Nepal, said, “We want to develop their interest in IT as well as their capabilities—to inspire them to play an active role in Nepal’s IT sector and bring innovation to it.”

    Participants spent the first two days mastering the essentials of app development, then worked on their own app ideas and pitched them on the final day of the camp. To further encourage students’ creativity and learning process, the programme offered incentives to those who submitted their apps that week: they will receive 50 percent of their course fees if their app is successfully published in the Windows Phone Store, and the participant whose app has the highest number of downloads would be awarded a Windows Phone 8.

    Twenty-seven apps were eventually published in the Windows Phone Store, with a cumulative download of more than 95,000 times; the winning app, KiLL THEM!!! accounted for a whopping 85 percent of total downloads.

    KiLL THEM!!! is a simple and fun shooting game created by Arjan Maharjan, a computer engineering student from Kathmandu Engineering College. Arjan could not believe the popularity of his app when he was announced the winner of the new Windows Phone 8, and attributed his success to the knowledge he gained from the five-day workshop.

    Screenshot of the winning app KILL THEM!!!

    According to Arjan, the Windows Phone 8 app development camp was interesting as well as informative. “I learned a lot of logic related to programming. It has definitely helped me upgrade my programming skills. I would highly recommend the workshop to anyone who takes an interest in app developing and programming,” he added.

    Fired up by his app’s success, Arjan is looking to develop more apps in the future and hopes to participate in advanced app development courses to further his skills.

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