By: Angela Camacho, Legal Corporate Affairs Director, Associate General Counsel, Microsoft Latin America

Today Microsoft furthered its commitment to bridging the “opportunity divide,” joining with the Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) and the International Youth Foundation (IYF) to launch a new partnership to dramatically boost job entry among poor and low-income youth in Latin America and the Caribbean. NEO: New Employment Opportunities - or Nuevos Empleos y Oportunidades - brings together key private, public and civic leaders to reach 1 million youth in Latin America, while providing high-impact, market-relevant youth training and job placement services on a large scale.

As a Founding Corporate Partner, Microsoft is making a $1 million financial contribution, donating $4 million worth of software, and making in-kind commitments to provide training curriculum, internships, on the job training and mentors. As a company, we are deeply committed to this region. In 2011, Microsoft celebrated 25 years of impact in Latin America and the Caribbean, and we currently employ more than 2,000 direct employees and support an ecosystem of 70,000 partners.

The challenge in this part of the world is substantial:

  • The population in Latin America and the Caribbean is young: nearly one-third of the population will be age 15-34 by 2015.
  • Approximately 89 percent of young people in the region enroll in secondary education, but less than one-half complete it.
  • Income inequalities are among the worst in the world; only 28 youth from low-income families graduate for every 100 youth graduating from high-income families.
  • 1 out of every 5 youth aged 15-29 are neither working nor in school.

These statistics speak directly to the “opportunity divide” Microsoft is working to close – an emergent gap between those who have the access, skills, and opportunities to be successful and those who do not. Each one of the world’s 1.2 billion young people ages 15 to 24 holds the potential to lead productive independent lives and contribute positively to society. Closing this opportunity divide is one of the most important actions we can all take – together – to secure the future of our youth and as a result, the social and economic development of our countries.

We are particularly excited about this initiative because it creates opportunities for youth through technology, training, and experiences, empowering them to imagine and realize their full potential.

NEO LATAM Photo 1 (2)

To find out more about the urgency of the global youth opportunity divide, click here to read Microsoft’s commissioned report, “Opportunity for Action”, recently released by the International Youth Foundation.

Microsoft has a long-standing partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to foster Development through Technology and Capacity Building in Latin America and the Caribbean.

For the Spanish version of this blog please click here.