Guest blog post by Lindsay Pointu, e-Inclusion Foundation
We live in a fast-paced digital era where new technology comes into play every day. For any organisation to flourish, it is essential that it incorporates this technology into its workings to improve productivity and efficiency – and NGO’s are no exception.
NGO’s in Mauritius play an important role in the country, and multiple organisations across a broad range of sectors assist with crucial services and continuous development of the island nation. So it is imperative that these organisations have access to technology, as well as the relevant skills they need to operate effectively and have maximum impact in the work they do.
With this in mind, Microsoft’s MySkills4Afrika volunteer program, part of the 4Afrika Initiative, recently partnered with the e-Inclusion Foundation and the University of Mauritius to train NGO representatives to build their IT skills. MySkills4Afrika offers world-class skills for Africans and fosters global leadership and career development for volunteers to assist in the skills development of graduates and startups across all industries, schools, universities and the public sector. The E-Inclusion Foundation’s aim is to facilitate access to ICT tools and training for those at the margin of digital society, and it has distributed to date some 5,200 PC’s, 2,500 of which went to NGO’s. The 4Afrika Initiative is constantly looking for ways to invest in Africa’s promise and explore new avenues to accelerate growth across the continent. Helping NGO’s by providing training is an ideal way of working towards achieving both these goals.
MySkills4Afrika volunteer, Omar Rahmouni, conducted a workshop over two days, focusing on training the 58 participants from 23 different Mauritian NGO’S in the optimal use of Microsoft’s productivity tools. The training was conducted in one of the IT labs made available by the University of Mauritius – a telling illustration of University’s commitment to the community and of their willingness to partner with the Private Sector.
Naveesha Bhirugnath, who attended the workshop on behalf of the Global Rainbow Foundation – a charitable trust that supports people with disabilities – felt the training helped her to brush up her skills and discover new ways to work more effectively. “I have used Microsoft Office before, but now I understand how to use it more effectively, especially for my presentations. I also learned about Microsoft Publisher for the first time, which is really helpful for making brochures.”
Caritas Mauritius is a volunteer- and community-based organisation that aims to rehabilitate the poor and oppressed in the country, and has more than 20 projects on the go throughout the island. The NGO’s Secretary General, Patricia Adele Felicite, said the training gave her ideas about how to improve her organisation’s work. “Up until now we have mostly stuck to the basics, but I’ve learned how useful Excel can be for monitoring, analysing and evaluating our projects. It is also helpful to know how to maximise our use of PowerPoint and Outlook.”
Both Naveesha and Patricia are eager to share what they learned with their colleagues and implement their learnings in their organisations. They, along with the other participants, have also committed to completing the e-Inclusion Foundation’s Digital Learning Curriculum to further their IT skills development.
Lindsay Pointu of e-Inclusion commented that what was clear from this training workshop was that while many Mauritian NGO’s are making use of technology in their daily operations – a great step in the right direction – many are not optimising their tools. “In fact, the e-Inclusion Foundation has supplied PCs to 300 NGO’s, but the majority haven’t had any training, and certainly none targeted specifically at them.” A NGO Day – the second such event in this country – with the participation of all NGO’s is planned for later this year.
The participating NGO’s share the belief that being exposed to this type of training will help them better service their communities – which in turn has the potential to help the African continent grow. Lindsay concluded, “Being skilled in working with constantly developing technology will help these NGO’s stay ahead of the curve, not only locally, but globally too.”
With this in mind, it is imperative for NGO’s like those who participated in the workshop to seek training and upskill in order to be part of a forward-thinking African community.