Posted by Mteto Nyati and Hennie Loubser
Managing Director, Microsoft South Africa and General Manager, Microsoft WECA respectively
Since 1992, when we opened our first office in Africa, we have actively worked to help individuals, communities and nations across the continent thrive and grow. Fuelled by the incredible potential we see in Africa – from its young population, to its tremendous natural resources, to its opportunities for market growth, we’ve worked with passion to help enhance capacity for development, so that the continent can benefit from locally generated and sustainable development; and that Africa can realize her full potential.
And so it was with great honour that on 23 June, we received recognition for our far-reaching effect on improving the lives of citizens in these regions at the fourth annual African Business Awards held in London, UK in the category for ‘Best Corporate Social Responsibility.’
Organised by African Business magazine, and the Commonwealth Business Council (CBC), the African Business Awards recognise business leaders and companies that have excelled in Africa over the last year. The ‘Best Corporate Social Responsibility’ award recognises the use of the human resources and skills of the company to sustainably improve the living conditions of vulnerable populations, and is aimed at ‘companies which go beyond the philanthropic use of funds to use their overall knowledge, resources and reputation to improve the lives of the poor and disadvantaged.’
Microsoft was specifically awarded for its efforts in areas including:
• Youth Employability, where we’ve granted funds to the International Youth Foundation to provide technology, life skills, entrepreneurship, and marketable job skills training to 5,500 young people in Kenya and Tanzania. This program’s success has fueled interest and contributions from a range of other donors such as the British foreign aid agency, USAID, the World Bank, and Samsung;
• Community Technology Access, where we’ve partnered with the UN High Commission for Refugees and other private sector partners to launch computer literacy and vocational training courses for over 18,000 refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in solar-powered computer classrooms in a camp in the Kiziba refugee camp in Rwanda.
• Teacher Training & Curriculum, by far one of Microsoft’s most established focus areas in the region, our targeted contribution to the South African education system specifically has focused on providing guidance and training to teachers in the use of technology, and support for school principals and their corresponding provinces and districts. We trained over 4000 teachers in the use of ICT, as well as constructed partnership agreements to ensure ongoing collaboration between corporates, government and NGOs and alignment of projects with plans of the South African Department of Basic Education.
Receiving this accolade in the Corporate Social Responsibility category is a significant acknowledgement for Microsoft, where we align our African Citizenship programmes closely to the top priorities identified by the governments of the countries in which we operate, both to remain locally relevant and to make a real difference in the lives of people who need it the most.