Worldwide, countries understand that improving access to quality education is a critical part of improving their economies and societies. Technology access for students, teachers, and parents is a critical enabler that makes it possible for anyone, anywhere to get a top quality education. For all citizens, access to this ‘digital society’ delivers tangible economic, employment, and social opportunities. For governments, increasing digital inclusion accelerates the growth of a high-employment economy by accelerating global competitiveness. Shape the Future helps governments build the Public/Private Partnerships (PPPs) that create meaningful and effective solutions to their educational, economic, and social challenges by making technology access a right for all, not a privilege for some.
Today, countries face unprecedented challenges in meeting the demands of their citizens. From empowering the unemployed, to raising student achievement, to growing cities’ local tax bases… government leaders are looking for smart, sustainable, and inclusive solutions that can impact the greatest number of people. Technology is the tool that can scale these solutions to reach all citizens. Shape the Future is designed to help a country take on their core challenges and bring together the right technology, people, plans, and resources to succeed.
Frankly, providing software isn’t the area where Microsoft can deliver the most impact. When we participate early in the policy and program development cycle, our broad and deep expertise can provide significant and lasting benefits to the initiative. Over the past decade, Microsoft has developed, over 150 different Public/Private Partnerships designed to get technology into the hands of those who can benefit the most. In all fairness, we have worked on twice that many which did NOT succeed. From all these projects, we learn, refine and become ever more able to advise and guide our partners effectively.
Depending on the initiative, Microsoft has recommended cloud services, software, training, support, distribution, and critical partnerships to help enable a successful outcome. Every country is different and each has a range of priorities depending on their specific situation. Some countries see disadvantaged students who may be ‘digitally excluded’ as the top priority, while others place special emphasis on teachers, nurses or the unemployed as persons who need a specific program in order for them to join the digital society. In every country however, it is a smart and specific policy from the government combined with an inclusive program that creates a sustainable solution for their citizens.
Making public/private partnerships work
Each Shape the Future solution is customized to meet the specific needs of the government and its citizens, offering favorable financing, software, hardware, training, and support that no single provider could provide. The critical ingredient for sustainability and success is having each partner stakeholder involved in the process. PPPs are not donations or in-kind contributions. They are well planned, viable, and sustainable for all parties involved. Successful Public/Private Partnerships are made up of win-win-win solutions and usually include several key organizations:
Local and multi-national technology companies
Banks or other finance institutions
Local retailers, trainers and service providers
Local or national utility companies
Civil society and special interest groups
When these partners’ interests and strengths are effectively brought together, Public/Private Partnerships become a powerful force that can leverage the strengths of each towards a common goal.
Examples of successful partnerships
Education: Providing teachers and students with access to PCs to enable home and school use; developing content for digital teaching and learning skills; building relevant, personalized learning environments; and meeting a country’s overall education goals.
Entrepreneurs: Helping entrepreneurs access affordable technology and training which can increase their productivity and contribution to local economies.
eGovernment: Helping government agencies ensure citizens have the necessary technology to access online solutions.
eHealth: Building the digital skills and access for public health professionals while improving citizen access to health information and services.
Seniors: Helping aging citizens become comfortable with technology so that they can access government health benefits, find new learning opportunities, maintain independent living, and connect with extended family and friends.
How to engage with us
While each project is unique, one thing is true about our most successful initiatives. They are each designed, implemented, and sustained by public-private partnerships in close alignment with a true ‘Champion’ supporting the government’s policy goals. If you want to be (or know someone who should be) a ‘Champion’ in your country please connect with one of our Shape the Future regional business development managers by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We welcome you to the movement!