While Myanmar is experiencing fast economic growth, poverty and unemployment issues are disproportionately concentrated in rural areas where residents depend on subsistence agriculture for their livelihood.
Unemployment among rural youth has also become a growing concern in Myanmar. Young people in underserved communities often lack the employment skills and access to educational opportunities that enable them to adapt to the demands of tomorrow's digital economy.
Tag International Development is on a mission to change that, working closely with global partners and local educational institutions to promote knowledge sharing in Myanmar’s rural communities.
Operating in Myanmar since 2012, Tag has spearheaded numerous programs with Canada’s International Development Research Center (IDRC) to empower rural young people. These initiatives include providing skills training for students aged 18-25 who are studying at agricultural education institutions in southern Shan State—and facilitating potential employment opportunities for these disadvantaged youth.
Microsoft has been supporting these initiatives through Microsoft YouthSpark Grants since 2016, and is currently partnering Tag to train rural entrepreneurs in Myanmar.
"Digital literacy is essential to empowering underserved youth with more education, employment and entrepreneurship opportunities,” said Marina Pevzner Hennessy, Head of Global Partnerships and Director at Tag USA. “Our aim is to get every rural youth in Myanmar ready for work, by helping them hone their IT skills and employability. Through this partnership, we are able to tap Microsoft’s expertise in technology education programs to nurture the next crop of rural entrepreneurs.”
The partnership focuses on providing rural youth with more opportunities to pick up relevant computer skills, such as email and social media communications, that can help them manage their own business. As part of the capacity building efforts, Microsoft and Tag will jointly train and develop a cohort of Youth Ambassadors, who will be tasked with delivering basic digital literacy training in 25 rural villages.
By end 2017, Microsoft and Tag aim to equip 5,000 rural students in Myanmar with the 21st century skills they need to operate in tomorrow’s digital economy and thrive in their future entrepreneurial pursuits.
Dr. Daiana Beitler, Regional Director Asia, Microsoft Philanthropies, said: "We believe in the power of technology to connect young people to more opportunities and change their lives for the better. Working together with Tag, we are focusing our efforts on building local capacity to provide digital skills training to aspiring rural entrepreneurs in Myanmar, who otherwise would not have access to computer education."