By: Ghada Khalifa, Citizenship & social responsibility lead for MS Egypt
While some countries, like Egypt, encourage a culture of volunteerism due to certain religious beliefs of many of its citizens, we need to tap into this more effectively to find more sustainable solutions. There is no shortage of people eager to help others who are in need by donating money, food or medicine.
In fact, this has spread to the corporate world, where it’s become the norm for employees to visit an orphanage or paint a school as part of their company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs.
These efforts certainly play a role in alleviating poverty, illiteracy and variety of other social ills, but they often don’t address the actual problems. It ends up simple being a good photo opportunity and an exercise in feeling good.
Using existing skills to develop long-term solutions
This is where Bill Gates’ concept of Creative Capitalism comes in. It calls on corporates to use their established competencies and expertise to solve local and global challenges, rather than working in unfamiliar or unrelated contexts.
The idea behind Creative Capitalism encourages the highly skilled and Egyptian workforce to use its skills to make a real difference and help develop long-term solutions.
It makes far more sense for a technology company, for example, to have an CSR program that allows employees to use their expertise to develop technical solutions for a community, than it does for the same company to paint a few walls.
Developing passion by helping others
Our own Microsoft Employee Volunteer Program in Egypt is tapping into this mind-set effectively. Based on Creative Capitalism, we encourage our employees to use their know-how to address real community needs.
For example, Microsoft Egypt collaborated to develop the Libya refugee cloud-based solution needed by the International Migration Organisation, as well as the Dalil Seti online directory for people with disabilities to make use of the services offered by Seti Caritas. They have also participated in various youth skills development programs, reaching over 4000 youth so far.
At Microsoft, we believe that the creativity of our employees emerges when they know their efforts make a real difference – and a large part of that comes from helping others in impactful ways.