Microsoft Citizenship Asia Pacific

  • Drawing Up the Blueprint for Empowerment of Sri Lankan Youth

    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.”

  • Imagine Cup Vietnam Winner Develops Game that Promotes Environmental Values

    More than 1,000 young innovators in Vietnam participated in the local segment of the Imagine Cup 2013 competition, with a team of four students from the VNU University of Engineering and Technology (VNU-UET) clinching the title of this year’s national champions.

    Since the first local competition held in 2004, the Imagine Cup competition in Vietnam has seen increased participation from young innovators across the country

    One of only six project submissions that made it to the final round of the local competition, eventual winner, Team Bluetooth, developed a game app called ‘Green Haven Game’ that promotes environmental values and encourages different sustainable initiatives. The app was built on Microsoft’s XNA® platform.

    Through its engaging play, the Green Haven Game takes the app user through several key stages of sustainability, such as waste sorting, waste reduction and material conservation, material reuse and recycling. To advance its commercial viability, the game app developed by Team Bluetooth runs on a variety of Windows® and Xbox® based operating systems.

    Microsoft Vietnam presented Team Bluetooth with their championship title at an awards ceremony held in Hanoi on 18 April. By coming up tops in the local competition, the VNU-UET students will represent Vietnam in the upcoming Imagine Cup 2013 Worldwide Finals, which will take place in July in Russia.

    Nguyen Francis Tuan Anh, Developer and Platform Evangelism (DPE) Lead at Microsoft Vietnam, said, “Since the first local competition was held in Vietnam in 2004, the Imagine Cup has seen increased participation from young innovators across the country. Imagine Cup is only the beginning of a long journey for these aspiring tech entrepreneurs, and we hope the competition has provided them with useful insights into how they can leverage the latest technology to create a positive impact on their local communities.”  

    For more information, please visit 

    “We hope that the Imagine Cup competition has provided aspiring tech entrepreneurs with useful insights into how they can leverage the latest technology to create a positive impact on their local communities.”

    -  Nguyen Francis Tuan Anh, DPE Lead, Microsoft Vietnam





  • ‘How’d You Do That?’ Office 365 to (em)Power your Non-profit

    By Marcus Harvey, Consulting & ICT Services Manager, Infoxchange

    This post is part of a series offering technology tips and tricks to help you work more efficiently, and help people and organisations get the most out of IT.

    Over the past year, I have had the good fortune to work with non-profits across Australian and New Zealand to help them improve their Information Technology (IT) environments. Reliable, cost effective technology improves staff productivity, enables easy monitoring of client outcomes and ultimately helps organisations more effectively support their clients and community.

    Almost everyone we work with wants to know how they can do more with less. Staff need to be able to work efficiently, stay connected and feel part of the organisation no matter where they are – at home, with clients or on the road. I’ve seen the benefits of Office 365 as a result of more than 50 implementations and believe that Microsoft’s decision to make Office 365 available free of charge to eligible non-profits in 41 countries is a game-changer.

    Office 365 allows the sector to reduce technology costs and provides access to innovative tools and systems that allow staff to focus more the on activities that make a real difference to communities. The Office 365 donation/E1 plan is now free for eligible non-profits and includes:

    • Outlook and Exchange Online for email and shared calendaring (50 Gb/user);

    • Lync for instant messaging, high definition audio/video conferencing and screen sharing;

    • SharePoint for online storage, collaboration and document management;

    • SkyDrive for local file synchronisation, allowing staff to work anywhere; and

    • Access to online versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint, so staff and volunteers can easily work anywhere with an Internet connection.

     Note: I generally recommend organisations also take advantage of the TechSoup donation program to purchase local versions of Microsoft Office 2013 for a small investment.

    Office 365 allows people to work effectively and access information anywhere that you have an Internet connection through a wide variety of devices. It doesn’t matter if you use a Windows phone, iPhone, Android phone, tablet or laptop – you can use almost any device to stay connected, manage your emails, message your contacts and access information in SharePoint.

    The real benefit of Office 365 is that it allows organisations to forget about technology and focus on their clients and community, offering

    • Lowered technology costs – reducing or eliminating the need for servers that must be upgraded and replaced every 3-5 years.

    • Inbuilt, automated backup with data replicated across multiple data centres – gone are the days of daily reviewing of backup success emails and changing tapes or disks!

    • Flexibility to readily scale up or down as funding and opportunities arise without significant capital infrastructure costs.

    • 99.9 percent guaranteed availability.

    • Effective collaboration tools to work on documents and videoconferencing, independent of location, enabling teleworking, providing flexibility and reduced travel costs.

    In the Asia Pacific region, information is stored securely in Hong Kong and Singapore and the environment is accredited to a raft of international security standards. While offshore data storage may not be appropriate for every organisation (depending on the type of information you keep), the fact that Office 365 offers non-profits the opportunity to reduce costs, simplify technology support and improve staff productivity means that it should be considered as part of your organisation’s IT plan.

    In the words of the CEO from non-profit Leisure Networks, “Office 365 has enabled us to future proof our investment and provide a secure, easily accessible way to bring together our information and communication systems. What is important to us is to have an easy to use system and central place for all the information we need when we are working from our main office, at home or somewhere around regional Victoria.”

    Further information about Office 365 can be found in the links below. I am also always happy to assist and provide further information to any non-profit that wants to make the most of their technology. Feel free to contact me at

  • Tech4Good Webinar Series :: Microsoft Office 365 for Nonprofits - A Demo

    Join us for this FREE webinar on "Microsoft Office 365 for Nonprofits - A Demo", Thursday, 20 February 2014, at 12:00 PM (Singapore time).

    Register today! 

    If your organisation has staff and volunteers in multiple locations, requires more flexible working styles or needs to access data from various devices, then cloud solutions like Microsoft Office 365 could be the right solution for you.

    Eligible nonprofit and charitable organisations now receive free donated versions of Office 365 with the full capabilities and secure environment of installed software with the collaborative, anywhere availability of the cloud.

    This webinar will provide an overview of the features available on the Office 365 Enterprise E1 plan, including:

    * Office Web Apps: Open, view and edit documents from any Internet browser, wherever you are.

    * Hosted email: Access your email, shared calendars and contacts from any device.

    * Document sharing: Share documents with SharePoint Online with the ability to edit them simultaneously with others.

    * Video conferencing and collaboration: Meet and collaborate with out-of-office staff and volunteers using Microsoft Lync Online.

    We look forward to having you join us for this FREE webinar on Thursday, 20 February 2014, at 12:00 PM (Singapore time).

  • HOW TO: Add Text to Images Using Windows 8 App Fotor

    Fotor is a free Window 8 photo editing app that allows nonprofits to easily add text to images, such as inspirational quotes, powerful statistics and captions. Proven to significantly increase engagement on social media, nonprofits would be wise to become very adept at embedding text on images in 2014.

    Step 1: Install Fotor from the Windows Store

    Step 2: Select Open > Edit > Text

    3. Add text and select font, orientation and colour

    4. Save and upload image to social media

    That’s all there is to it. Get started today making your posted photos stand out more – and increase your organisation’s engagement on social media.

    Thanks to Heather Mansfield, founder of Nonprofit Tech 2.0 (Bio) (LinkedIn), and author of Social Media for Social Good: A How-To Guide for Nonprofits for providing these tips on the Fotor app.

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