This is part of a series of articles highlighting the valuable work that Microsoft’s Community Affairs Managers are doing in Asia.Miles of land sprawl out sporadically dotted by houses and farmlands. Sometimes a hawker peddling food or wares on a cart cycles by. Completing the picture would be those who, unfortunately, are missing from this scene typical of agricultural communities.
Supahrat Juramongkol, Microsoft Thailand Community Affairs Manager, organises most of the Citizenship activities she heads in areas that are lagging behind in terms of poverty reduction
“They are: young men who are struggling because of poor harvests, and haven’t had a stable income season after season; teenagers who can’t afford school and don’t have the skills or experience for decent-wage jobs,” Microsoft Thailand Community Affairs Manager Supahrat Juramongkol recalled of the participants she has met while organising Microsoft’s corporate citizenship programmes.The results of Thailand’s recent economic growth and poverty reduction programmes have dispersed unevenly, with income and opportunity inequalities still persisting in some of the less developed provinces. Poverty is dominant in rural areas: 88 percent of the country’s poor live in rural areas, with the North and Northeast regions particularly underdeveloped. The dire poverty cycle cripples generations in many ways, and leaves many disadvantaged young men and women prone to exploitation.“Without a fruitful harvest, you can’t afford higher education for your children. Without sufficient education, they can’t get decent-wage jobs, let alone have any real savings. People aren’t able to simply ‘help’ themselves out of poverty,” Supahrat explained. “We want to intervene, and, hopefully, break the cycle with informal education.”Supahrat organises most of the Citizenship activities in areas that are lagging behind in terms of poverty reduction. These have mainly been information and communication technology (ICT) training to help provide more employment and marketing outreach opportunities for those from disadvantaged communities. In a project with Population and Community Development Association, Microsoft provided ICT training to help expand income opportunities; the programme reached 34,000 youth leaders, youths and villagers.Microsoft’s ICT training programmes also aim to raise awareness about the effective ways of using and producing digital content. Participants learn how to source for market rates for crop prices, connect with customers via social media and develop websites to promote their products.Supahrat and her colleagues also worked closely with many nonprofits in Thailand to set up 68 Community Technology Skill Centres in the North and Northeast regions to provide easier access to computers and the Internet.
Under Supahrat’s leadership, Microsoft Thailand has received a total of five Excellence Awards from the American Chamber of Commerce’s CSR programme
Another project, organised in conjunction with anti-trafficking NGO The Mirror Foundation and its networks, helped 30,000 vulnerable victims develop the necessary IT skills to secure decent-wage employment or go on to advanced IT training. Supahrat recalled, “The participants, mainly from hill tribes, were potential and actual victims of trafficking. They were pessimistic about their future, and the training gave them hope.” Armed with their new computer literacy, these participants now have the confidence to seek better employment and are less vulnerable to exploitation.The projects that give Supahrat the greatest sense of pride are: Building Employability through Technology and Entrepreneurship Resources (BETTER), and its follow-up programme E-BETTER — both are focused on building IT capacity and generating better job opportunities in Thailand and in ASEAN. The programmes are developed through close collaboration with the Department of Skill Development and the Ministry of Labour in Thailand, as well as the Kenan Institute Asia. To date, about 160,000 people have benefited from this programme.Under Supahrat’s leadership, Microsoft Thailand has received a total of five Excellence Awards from the American Chamber of Commerce’s CSR programme, and was also recognised for its US Creative Partnership programme, which builds knowledge-economy job skills by engaging Thai workers in public and private development.What are her tips for others working in CSR? “You need great partners to multiply project impact, you need to think of win-win strategies and always be passionate about what you do.”
It was an honour for Microsoft to bear witness to Sri Lanka’s historic hosting of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in the city of Hambantota, and participate alongside political leaders, civil society, youth, the business community and others in the summit’s vision of serving the world better.At the 10 November inauguration ceremony of the 9th Commonwealth Youth Forum, which was held in parallel with the CHOGM, Sri Lanka President Mr Mahinda Rajapaksa made a powerful statement that for a long time, Sri Lankan children and youth have been robbed of their childhood and opportunities. Their ability to now participate in a Forum dedicated to them, with youth delegates from across the world, is significant for the country. He emphasised the country’s need to close opportunity gaps and inequalities, a message also highlighted by the Youth Forum’s theme ‘Inclusive Development—Stronger Together’.The rich multi-stakeholder discussions that followed brought up the needs, aspirations and challenges that young people in Commonwealth countries face. Clair Deevy, Citizenship Lead of Microsoft Asia Pacific, spoke at a panel discussion, ‘Well-being and Economic Growth’, alongside other panellists, including Dr Palitha Kohana, the Sri Lankan Representative to the United Nations in New York.
Namal Rajapaksa (a Member of Parliament and founder of the youth organisation, Tharunayata Hetak) and Clair Deevy meeting at the 9th Commonwealth Youth Forum in Hambantota
During the forum, which saw a turnout of 500 locals and over 200 youth from 54 countries, Clair made an impactful presentation on the need for the private sector to be actively involved in youth empowerment to help future generations become more skilled and employable. She underscored this with the proven success of several Microsoft YouthSpark programmes that are already freely accessible to Sri Lankan youth. She also fielded questions on these programmes, such as the Digital Literacy Curriculum, which have provided essential computing skills.Clair pointed out, “Today’s youth face an opportunity gap; some have access to the necessary skills and training needed to succeed today, but some do not. With more than 75 million unemployed young people around the world, we aim to work with youth organisations and local governments to close this gap, so that the future of our youth—and our global economy—can be secured.”In addition to the panel discussion, Microsoft Sri Lanka also hosted a YouthSpark booth and two side-events—‘Speedgeek’ and ‘Ask Me Anything’—run by student ambassadors from around the country. These events were very well received by the attendees, who asked many questions on technology and how it has addressed the challenges faced by today’s youth.After the event, Imran Vilcassim, Country Manager of Microsoft Sri Lanka and the Maldives, enthused, “The summit is a landmark event for Sri Lanka, and the Youth Forum has shown that our country wants to place young people at the centre of its development strategy. Microsoft YouthSpark has many opportunities to engender and facilitate youth empowerment in the move towards Sri Lanka’s vision, and we are excited about the prospects.”
By Allen Bailochan Tuladhar, Country Director, Microsoft Innovation Center
Our recent slew of events, where turnout figures ran from the hundreds to the thousands, has knocked the wind out of me slightly. But I’m proud to say that the Microsoft Innovation Center(MIC) team has done exceptionally well in running multiple Windows Phone 8 App development camps in June and July, while planning for two September events at the same time.
A Microsoft Student Partner introducing Certify Nepal during CAN Softech 2013
The first event I would like to highlight is CAN Softech 2013 (4 – 7 September), organised by the good folks at Computer Association of Nepal (CAN). The event has grown so much since it began six editions ago, as a reflection of how our information and communications technology (ICT) sector is progressing.The massive display by software, solutions and services exhibitors at CAN Softech 2013 drew an impressive turnout. Over the three days, more than 1,200 event attendees registered at the MIC booth to receive our updates. The people who visited our booth in droves were also drawn to our Certify Nepal activity, which provided free certification for those who passed tests in Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint. The Certify Nepal participants were further rewarded with free exam vouchers worth around USD225 and a wireless mouse.
Kudos to the Microsoft Student Partners who helped to organise the campaign with MIC!There is no rest for the weary, for we soon had our annual DevTech Day, organised with the WinServer Community and ASP.NET Community, to share knowledge about Windows Server infrastructure and app development with the technical community. The programme was split into two tracks, one for developers, and the other for IT pros, with the sessions aimed at shedding light on the latest technologies.One of the highlights was presenting Windows 8.1, with speakers at both tracks introducing its improved functionality and features such as Near Field Communication, Nokia Map Technology and Native Miracast Wireless Display. I’d like to think the audience at my session had the best response because my co-hosts, MIC Windows Developers Sonika Manandhar and Nairisha Shrestha, and I launched a toy helicopter (‘MICopter’) in the hall! We flew it using an app on a Windows Phone and a Windows Surface tablet.
Audience was treated to a demonstration of the MICopter that was operated by using the Windows Phone and Windows Surface at the DevTech Day 2013
I had initially expected a turnout of around 150 participants at DevTech Day, but over 230 people attended the conference at Shankar Hotel in Lazimpat. Among them were students, some of whom have great app development ideas, and others who are managing challenging enterprise IT projects. It was enriching to have such a mix of software developers and technology enthusiasts at the conference for they came with different experiences and ideas.I am amazed by the sheer drive and creativity of the local technical community. The collaborations that were forged and the knowledge shared through the years of holding DevTech Day will be among the many factors to drive Nepal forward in its technology adoption and innovation.
Microsoft Korea held its “NGO Cloud Day: Oh! 365 Days, We’re Smart!” event on 1 October to share helpful tips with nonprofits on how to utilise cloud technology to usher in a new era of cost efficiency, collaboration, innovation and improved productivity.Attended by 242 nonprofit professionals from all around the country, October’s NGO Cloud Day is the biggest affair in terms of size since the event was first held in 2008. It followed the successful launch of “Office 365 for Nonprofits” global donation programme, which provides free cloud-based Office services for qualifying non-governmental organisations (NGOs) around the world.Country Manager James Kim opened the event with a welcome address emphasising the importance of nonprofit initiatives to society, and how technology can enable operational excellence within the nonprofit sector. Sung-cheol Cho, President of Korea Association of Social Workers, followed with a presentation highlighting the key role information technology (IT) plays in creating a people-first society.The welcome addresses were followed by speeches from various members of academia, nonprofit representatives as well as key Microsoft executives, who drew attention to the challenges and opportunities nonprofits face in a fast-changing IT landscape.Seung-joo Baek, from Microsoft Korea’s Developer Platform Evangelists Group, elaborated on the future of smart work trends that nonprofits can harness. The concept of smart work is premised on cloud applications such as Office365 that facilitate cost-effective work styles and efficient adoption of IT-as-a-Service, making them suitable for NGOs with limited resources.
Seung-joo Baek, from Microsoft Korea’s Developer Platform Evangelists Group, touched on IT trends that are sweeping the world and offered tips on how NGOs can leverage cloud technologies for more effective work
To enable attendees to get a more practical appreciation for the relevant cloud applications, Microsoft executives were on hand to provide demonstrations and address issues ranging from basic understanding of Office 365 to the main features of OneNote. Attendees participated enthusiastically, and came up with many questions regarding the actual use of the tools.The outcomes of a study on South Korean NGOs’ usage of IT, and their level of knowledge and perception about cloud services, were unveiled and provided much food for discussion. It is the first study of its kind, and it found that NGOs’ resources and nonprofit professionals’ IT knowledge are much more limited than other industry sectors’, and recommends a systematic IT education programme.Attendees also got the opportunity to have one-on-one consultations at the “Meet the Cloud Expert” booth to get more details on how their respective organisations can leverage cloud technologies. Quizzes about IT and trends in the nonprofit sector drew droves of participants, including more mature participants who had initially expressed reservations about emerging technologies. The quizzes, using Excel in the file hosting service SkyDrive, demonstrated how SkyDrive functions.
Attendees got an opportunity to “Meet the Cloud Expert”
NGO Cloud Day was attended by nonprofit staff from 214 NGOs, including YMCA, Seoul Welfare Foundation, Junior Achievement Korea and Children’s Foundation. The event was well-received and represents a step forward in sharing specific ways of getting the most out of Office 365 for their social initiatives. Mr Kim concluded the event by stating, “Cloud technologies open the way for NGOs with limited resources to leverage the full potential of IT by optimising their operations to work smarter and more effectively, and facilitate their contributions to society.”
By Mandeep Kaur, Community Affairs Manager, Microsoft MalaysiaLast month, we announced a partnership with Malaysia’s Ministry of Youth and Sports to work on addressing the opportunity divide young people face in Malaysia.
Such a partnership between the private and public sectors is a sure sign of how Innovate for Good, the main pillar of Microsoft’s YouthSpark programme, is gaining a stronger foothold in Southeast Asia. Diverse and inclusive engagement of all stakeholders is important; this shared vision and action plan will help us to bring about more effective changes in tackling the issues.
The Innovate for Good event (8-9 October) was part of a number of satellite events we hosted in the lead-up to the 4th Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES). It was attended by the Minister of Youth and Sports Khairy Jamaluddin; the Secretary-General of Malaysia’s Ministry of Finance Tan Sri Dr Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah; the United States Secretary of State’s Special Advisor on Global Youth Issues, Zeenat Rehman; US Ambassador to Malaysia Joseph Yun; Microsoft Malaysia’s Managing Director Carlos Lacerda; and 140 Malaysian youth. Such a turnout produced a number of open and constructive discussions on all parties’ concerns, ongoing activities and upcoming plans.
Turnout at Innovate for Good launch at Microsoft Malaysia’s office
John-son met Jia Chiun and Krane at the 2012 Innovate for Good Asia Pacific Summit in Singapore, after which DreamX joined the EPIC Homes team. They then developed an online platform to collect, organize and manage information on EPIC's volunteers, donations, indigenous homeowners and other resources for EPIC Homes. EPIC Homes is an organisation that constructs modular, prefabricated homes for Malaysia's Orang Asli indigenous population, 82 percent of whom (about 12,300 families) currently live in dilapidated and unsafe shelters.
GES took place a few days later (11-12 October), and our Senior Director of Global Community Affairs Akhtar Badshah represented us in sharing views on business innovation and entrepreneurship.
Microsoft booth at the 4th Global Entrepreneurship Summit
The first event was a panel discussion on “Big Business and Start-up Collaborations” led by Microsoft, Abrar Capital and IBM, as well as nonprofit organisation Kauffman Foundation. The discussion brought up various perspectives on the role businesses and start-ups can take in collaborating on innovative investments.
Akhtar also presented at “Public Private Partnerships 2.0: How PPPs Help Entrepreneurs Tap into the Full Diversityof a Global Entrepreneurship Ecosystem”, which was hosted by US Special Representative for Global Partnerships Drew O’Brien. Akhtar announced the latest regional partnership platform to promote entrepreneurship, FALCONS@MENA, and discussed other similar initiatives (LIONS@frica and TIGERS@Mekong) and the impact achieved to date.
Partnerships with the public and private sectors, as well as participation of the youth with aspirations of using technology to do good, are essential for the success of Innovate for Good. As YB Minister Khairy said in his statement on our partnership, “We have a responsibility of nurturing and training young people, but this role is not exclusively the Government’s and is a responsibility shared with the private sector and other key stakeholders. We are glad that Microsoft has been supporting entrepreneurs in the effort to develop human capital, specifically to assist in the development of IT skills through training opportunities and mentoring programmes.”
“We have a responsibility of nurturing and training young people but this role is not exclusively the Government’s and is a responsibility shared with the private sector and other key stakeholders. We are glad that Microsoft has been supporting entrepreneurs in the effort to develop human capital, specifically to assist in the development of IT skills through training opportunities and mentoring programmes.” Khairy Jamaluddin, Malaysia’s Minister of Youth and Sports
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