In a world where everything is becoming automated, artificial intelligence is replacing human jobs and those without technological know-how are being left behind; Microsoft Philanthropies is creating opportunity. Mary Snapp, the Corporate Vice President and Lead for Microsoft Philanthropies, sums it up perfectly:
“At Microsoft, our mission is to empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more. To me, the key word is “every.” Before people can enjoy the benefits that progress brings, they must first be able to use the technologies that make progress possible. The problem is that billions of people are excluded from today’s technology-driven society. At Microsoft, we believe that as technology moves forward, no one should be left behind.”
We live in a digital economy, and without the relevant digital skills required to make an income and thrive in this environment, billions of people would otherwise be left behind. Could this be the game-changer that prevents this from happening?
What Is Microsoft Philanthropies?
Microsoft Philanthropies was launched by the digital giant in December of 2015. It was created as an extension to their corporate philanthropy initiative in a bid to empower every human on the planet. The new organisation within Microsoft challenges the battles and struggles that mankind face on a daily basis. It is providing solutions for individuals as well as organisations in so many ways.
Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, has made a personal effort to see this initiative through to fruition, knowing full-well that the people who need the most assistance from technological advances are the ones not receiving said benefit. Much of this is due to poverty, lack of infrastructure, lack of education and accessibility, but Nadella knows too that this is no excuse. People and organisations can do better to effect positive change, and Microsoft Philanthropies has already proven to do exactly this.
In an article that announced the launch in December 2015, Microsoft President, Brad Smith, said it so eloquently:
“Just as there is an extremely effective commercial ecosystem which brings the promise of technology to life in the marketplace, there must be a strong societal ecosystem that brings the promise of technology to life in the community space, especially where there is the greatest need. Meeting the greatest need requires greater action. And, a recognition that empowerment begins with inclusion.”
Inclusion is the key and it can make the world smaller, more interconnected and more equipped to deal with life’s challenges. If that doesn’t tug at your heart strings, then we know this will. In 2016, Microsoft Philanthropies had allocated $1 billion in cloud-computing resources to help 70,000 non-profit organisations. This budget was going to drip into these organisations over the space of three years, but within just over one year, they had already far surpassed this target and decided to support 300,000 non-profits instead. It’s clear it is not about the financial investment, but the vast benefit that can be achieved from its influence.
Some of the ways that Microsoft Philanthropies is contributing to a connected future for everyone is as follows:
- Cash donations: As per the above-mentioned budget that was committed to non-profit organizations, Microsoft Philanthropies has dedicated huge sums of cash to worthy businesses and establishments. They have also allocated budget to further support their current investments, such as a $75 million to initiatives such as TEALS (Technology Education and Literacy in Schools) and their YouthSpark initiative. TEALS is ensuring that computer science is focused on in every school, while YouthSpark aims to take computer science education to places where it is most needed. Simple infrastructure will also be donated where necessary to ensure that technology can reach all corners of the globe.
- Closing digital inclusion gaps: This is where Microsoft Philanthropies has involved their technical employees to help bridge the gaps between people and technology. They are identifying areas where their technical prowess can be harnessed and used in partnerships with non-profit organizations, educational establishments and civic communities.
- Creative partnerships that empower communities: They are helping small, remote businesses grow into thriving enterprises by connecting them with cloud-based technology. Where this hasn’t been available in these remote locations, Microsoft Philanthropies is making it available. Actions like this are coupled with digital training and education to empower communities with the knowledge of digital and how they can use it to their advantage.
- Use the Microsoft brand to spur action on important causes: It’s always refreshing to see big brands use their fame for good, and this is one of the best examples that we’ve ever seen. Using the leverage that Microsoft already owns, they are driving positive change and action in key areas of digital exclusion. They’ve already shown how social media can be used to positively draw attention to such ideas via their Upgrade Your World This campaign highlighted organizations, people and communities that are using technology to improve their livelihood or the lives of those around them.
There are so many initiatives within the broader scope of what they’re doing, and it’s changing the face of digital today. As leaders in technology, they are already creating opportunity via the advances in the industry, now they can bring this to the people of the world in more ways than anyone has ever conceived of before.
The entire “movement” – we like to think of it as a movement, because hopefully this is going to inspire other massive brands and businesses to do the same – is being spearheaded by Mary Snapp and Brad Smith.