Posted by: Lutz Ziob, Dean of 4Afrika Academy
Kunle Awosika, Microsoft Kenya’s country manager, shared an interesting insight with me the other day. He said that he read an article which stated that according to a survey by PwC, 75% of CEOs in the region are in need of skilled workers. He added that by 2015, Africa is expected to attract USD 150 billion foreign trades. And the biggest challenge is that there aren’t enough skilled workers to meet these business requirements.
At Microsoft, we are well aware of the substantial gap that exists between the demand and supply of skills development in Africa. People across the continent crave learning opportunities, but there simply aren’t enough of them. Through our 4Afrika Initiative, we’ve set out to increase these opportunities and help bring world-class skills to Africans. We’re continually developing more programs to help us achieve this goal. And we’ve recently developed one more…
There are currently over 100 000 people around the globe who work for Microsoft. We have an intercontinental network of some of the brightest minds around with expertise in IT, Marketing, Engineering and more. And so, we thought, what better way to help bring critical skills to Africa than through our vast pool of talent?
Say hello to MySkills4Afrika.
MySkills4Afrika is a Microsoft employee volunteer program. It is designed to enable Microsoft’s employees, from all over the world, to play a significant role in improving Africa’s competitiveness. We’re giving employees the opportunity to mentor, coach and train African developers, partners, government leaders, SMEs and recent graduates. We’re encouraging both technical and non-technical employees to participate too. This way, we can bring in a much wider range of needed skills, including marketing, sales, leadership, business operations, project management, HR, app development, infrastructure and cloud computing. As one of our volunteers has said: “This program is not about painting a school or planting trees. It is about developing Africa’s business climate to enable people to compete and reach their full potential.”
Samar Patel, Regional Sales Director of Techno Brain Ltd. One of Microsoft’s partners has benefited through this program with his business development managers from East Africa receiving training from one of the volunteers. He said “MySkills4Afrika has helped us in understanding how diverse markets and culture operate to strengthen and build skills in Africa.”
And the benefits are two-fold. Each employee that is accepted into the program will be assigned a specific area of focus and a series of virtual assignments. They will then spend one to two weeks on the ground in Africa. So we’re also promoting global leadership and skills development amongst our own employees, as well as a better understanding of the African markets throughout the company.
We’re already seeing enormous successes from the program, both on the beneficiary side, and from our employees, who testify that their lives have positively changed through the experience. These include Melanie Sharpe from China, Michelle Agudera from Netherlands, and Jossie Tirado from Mexico based out of Seattle
Here’s what they had to say.
“Coming to the end of an AMAZING week in Johannesburg. With Darren Daniels & Lindi Chatterton, we rolled out a Career Lift development program for 150+ Student2Business Microsoft interns who are being trained on MSFT technology across Johannesburg. Feeling the impact of the herculean S2B program and our passion…Thank you for the amazing opportunity MySkills4Afrika!”
– Melanie Sharpe, volunteer in Johannesburg
“I was actually surprised at how many volunteer opportunities there were. A real spectrum, from deep technical training, to hard core selling, right all the way through to career development. I leave South Africa with a heavier and fuller heart, returning to Amsterdam with a new found love for this country and its people.”– Michelle Agudera, volunteer in Johannesburg.
“I got accepted to showcase Office 2013/Office 365. My audience included students, new developers, small businesses and researchers. You realize how the skills we use every day are often taken for granted. It makes a paramount difference when you share them with small businesses and entrepreneurs in markets like Africa.”
– Jossie Tirado, volunteer in Kenya
We’re excited to see employees, such as Melanie, Michelle and Jossie, contributing their time, talent and expertise. They are sharing vital skills and perspectives, which is helping Africans grow, innovate and compete on a global level. And that’s our goal. MySkills4Afrika looks forward to seeing over 50 volunteers from 17 countries work in Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, Uganda, Botswana, Tunisia, Morocco, Mauritius, Tanzania and Egypt. We’ll also see an additional 200 volunteers doing their work virtually. We eagerly await their success stories, and will be watching closely as they empower people all over Africa.