Microsoft lends helping hand to underserved


KUALA LUMPUR: To help bring technology to local underserved communities, software giant Microsoft Malaysia made cash and software donations to three non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

The NGOs — Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), Yayasan Salam Malaysia (YSM), and Mercy Malaysia — received cash grants worth RM1.7mil in total.

With the donations, which will be distributed over three years until 2011, the YWCA and YSM will provide basic computing and technology skills to the needy, with the aim of helping these people develop entrepreneurial or employment opportunities.

Mercy Malaysia was awarded with a large software grant to enhance its emergency relief efforts with information and communications technology (ICT).

Microsoft wants to help bridge the digital divide, that gap between the technology haves and have-nots, according to Jasmine Begum, Microsoft Malaysia director of corporate affairs for Malaysia and new markets.

“We are providing the tools and resources that can help the underprivileged improve their future and go on to better things,” she said.

These grants help NGOs deliver technology skills and training via a network of more than 29 community technology learning centres (CTLCs). This will benefit more than 20,000 people by providing jobs and career opportunities.

CTLCs offer people of all ages and abilities to learn about computers, use the Internet, explore new careers, further their education, participate in community activities, and develop job-related technology skills.

Doing its bit

The NGOs said the grants will help the underserved communities use technology to create social and economic opportunities that can change their lives in positive ways.

YWCA Malaysia’s national president, Dr Marina David, said the donations would enable the association to train women and girls in ICT, which will boost their employment opportunities.

As for YSM, its chief operating officer Md Ghani Ibrahim said the grant will help women and youths to venture into IT-based businesses or become entrepreneurs.

Mercy Malaysia honorary treasurer Amran Mahzan sees Microsoft software helping with making its relief efforts more efficient, as well as more accurately matching volunteers to its various types of relief work.

At the event, Begum also presented a contribution to Deborah Henry, the co-founder of the Save Education Centre, a charity organisation for Somali refugee children in Kuala Lumpur.

The grants were handed out under the Microsoft Unlimited Potential — Community Technology Skills Programme, which is a community ICT outreach effort.

Since the launch of the programme in 2004, Microsoft has given out cash and software worth more than RM3.1mil in total.

++++ www.microsoft.com/malaysia

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