Practical Help for Underprivileged Indonesian Youth

By Esther K Sianipar, Community Affairs Manager, Microsoft Indonesia

For its strong economic growth, even during the 2008 financial crisis, Indonesia is referred to as Southeast Asia’s economic giant. But, not even a giant can escape the so-called ‘Generation Jobless’. In 2011, the country had 5.3 million unemployed young people.

The USD117,000 grant awarded  to YCAB (Yayasan Cinta Anak Bangsa) by the Microsoft YouthSpark programme, comes at an opportune time, for YCAB intends to use it to provide practical ways to help our underprivileged youth to be social entrepreneurs and to get them ready for the workforce. The grant will be used to reach 2,000 youth over the next year, and provide training and resources for 200 young people each year to realize their full potential. Youth will be trained in the latest Microsoft technology such as Office 365 and Azure, so they can be empowered with the knowledge to create jobs and other opportunities for themselves. There are also plans for an event to help young people understand how Microsoft, its YouthSpark programme and technology can help them achieve their future career goals.

We are privileged to work with YCAB (which means ‘Loving the Nation’s Children Foundation’), an NGO that is well respected for its youth development programmes. YouthSpark training will continue to reach youth from different geographic locations, namely: Jakarta, Jambi (Sumatra) and Manado (North Sulawesi).

Our confidence in the programme was reinforced by the support our partners, the Government of Indonesia and YCAB, have shown. Abdul Kadir Damanik, Specialist Staff from Ministry of Cooperatives and SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises), said, “The YouthSpark Programme receives the full support from the government, and I believe this programme will produce new young and innovative entrepreneurs.”

Our office held the announcement event on 30 October, and saw a turnout of 2,000 underprivileged young people, as well as teachers and government officials from the Ministry of Cooperatives and SMEs.

 The announcement event was attended by 2,000 youth, teachers and government officials

Though it was complex managing such a large event, it was well worth the effort. I particularly enjoyed the inspiring presentations by well-known local talk show host Mohammad Farhan and successful online entrepreneur Ken Dean Lawadinata who is behind Indonesia’s largest online community KasKus. Following these, as a precursor to the training that will be implemented, YCAB Head of Information System Development I, Wayan Linggawa, and our own Office 365 Integration Specialist, Albert Sigit, introduced how cloud computing and Office 365 can help entrepreneurs build more lucrative and efficient business models.

 Chief Executive Officer and Founder of YCAB Veronica Colondam, Specialist Staff of Ministry Cooperatives and SMEs Abdul Kadir Damanik, and Microsoft Asia Citizenship Lead Clair Deevy signed a certificate in demonstration of their organisations’ commitment to the YouthSpark programme

The next day, we had a meaningful small-group discussion led by Clair Deevy, Microsoft Asia’s Citizenship Lead, and Imam Gunawan, Vice Deputy of Youth Empowerment from the Ministry of Sports. In attendance were 12 young people (16 to 24 years old) who were selected to represent views from as wide a cross-section of society as the scale of the discussion could allow. Some came from underprivileged backgrounds, some already have a small business going and others are still in college. The team leader of the first Indonesia team to win a coveted Imagine Cup Final, Ghalib, also joined us via Skype.

The intimate discussion allowed for a free flow of honest feedback on the opportunities and challenges the youth experience. Likewise, Mr Gunawan and Clair had the space to discuss their plans and provide advice.

 Clair Deevy, Microsoft’s Asia Citizenship Lead, and Imam Gunawan, Vice Deputy of Youth Empowerment from the Ministry of Sports, led a discussion with a group of youth in the office of Microsoft Indonesia

Mr Gunawan was impressed by the quality of exchange, and said he would pass on the issues identified to other ministry offices. Some of the issues discussed included the need to improve IT infrastructure and connectivity; the need to promote an environment that encourages innovation; and the need to nurture technopreneurs in state universities.

I am looking forward to updating this space with the activities that will be implemented, thanks to the YouthSpark grant, over the next two years!

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