Microsoft Sri Lanka under a YouthSpark grant together with World Bank and Fusion, the ICT arm of Sarvodaya, conducted ‘Innovation for Impact’, a two-day workshop designed to educate and provide ICT solutions to improve the local NGO sector with skills that will touch the lives of rural youth.
The workshop which brought together representatives from 23 non profit organisations from across the Island, was held with the intention of educating and building awareness amongst them on the importance and proper use of ICT and how it can enhance their community projects thus being able to train & reach youth with IT skills .
All of the NGOs were involved in projects that concentrated mainly on the empowerment of women which was a key focus area of the workshop.
Rolande Pryce, Operations Advisor World Bank Sri Lanka and the Maldives says that Sri Lanka has made some strides to improve access to Information Communications Technologies (ICT), creating opportunities for development. However, she says that much more remains be done. While successful on several development indicators, Sri Lanka is ranked 20th in the labor force participation gender gap. This is a significant challenge to the country’s goals for growth and equity. With ICT advancements, civil society organizations (CSOs) working on gender specific programmes have greater opportunities to build social enterprises and make a difference at grassroots level.
“ICT is a powerful transformative tool and it has revolutionized the way people think, behave, work and also advocate for change. The ‘Innovate for Impact’ initiative is especially intended to connect CSOs promoting women’s empowerment with ICT tools.” said Pryce.
The two-day workshop provided participants with the opportunity to learn, network and brainstorm on how ICT solutions could be effectively integrated within existing projects. Proposal writing, basic Web development, Social Media marketing, as well as the fundamentals of using Microsoft Office were included in the areas covered.
Microsoft who works with a number of non-profit organisations to improve the quality of life amongst Sri Lanka’s rural communities has had an ongoing partnership with both the World Bank and Sarvodaya Fusion. In line with that, a special programme ‘ICT development for NGOs’ was implemented by the External & Corporate Relations unit of the World Bank South Asia Region and the Microsoft Asia Pacific Citizenship Engagement programme and their Sri Lankan ICT4Development partner, Sarvodaya Fusion, three years ago.
Gillian Pearl and Saleemah Ismail from PCS a consulting firm that helps companies to create Corporate Responsibility Programs with a measurable positive impact on communities, customers, employees and shareholders, along with team member Marcus Harvey from Infoxchange , were the main facilitators of the two day event, imparting their knowledge and sharing new ideas with the local NGOs.
Lionel Preamachandra, Advocacy advisor from HelPage Sri Lanka who participated in the workshop said, “Innovation for impact is an important subject for all nonprofit organisations in Sri Lanka. The programme has given valuable inputs on guidance maintenance especially in regard to organizational development.”
Isura Silva, Manager of Sarvodaya Fusion who handles the operations side of the programme said that their organisation’s goal was to support NGO partners by helping them to work better. “A programme like Innovation for Impact is the ideal way to help them to enhance their operations through the use of ICT. Together we would be creating employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for educated young women in Sri Lanka,” he said.