In 2004 Microsoft came to Sri Lanka with the ambition of bringing the magic of software
to all Sri Lankans, and positively transforming the local IT landscape. This year,
the company marks 7 years of empowering businesses and enriching lives of over 1.5million
people across every corner of the country. This year also marks the celebration
of successful partnerships and far-reaching affiliations, with the Government, the
ICTA, the Ministry of Education, NGO partners, and leading Corporates that have
helped Microsoft to take the role of a tiny pebble that sets off giant ripples across
a vast pool that is the IT industry of Sri Lanka.
Over the years, the company has contributed significantly to change the way ICT
adoption permeates in Sri Lanka and thereby help our nation stand tall in the competitive
global arena. His Excellency, President Mahinda Rajapaksa in his message of felicitation
on the occasion stated, “Among the primary objectives of my government is to increase
ICT literacy to assist in the forward march of the country. Supporting this vision,
Microsoft has contributed greatly to increase ICT literacy in Sri Lanka since its
establishment. Microsoft has played a commendable role in increasing ICT penetration
into the rural sector of the country by its Gamata IT initiative, which has now
established a strong partnership with the Tharunayata Hetak Movement, the ICTA,
the Ministry of Education and Singer Sri Lanka. It has also facilitated training
and knowledge transfer to many thousands of students and teachers in our schools
while its Software for the 21st Century initiative greatly benefits undergraduates.
In addition, its assistance in training Secretaries of Ministries, Heads of Departments
and other key administrators have helped increase efficiency and productivity in
the public sector.
Another significant contribution by Microsoft Sri Lanka is the introduction of local
language enabled software that complemented the work initiated during the year of
English and IT. I look forward to the support of Microsoft Sri Lanka towards the
nation’s economic growth and its continued collaboration with my government, especially
with the Ministry of Telecommunication and Information Technology, to realize the
nation’s goals of economic development and progress.”
Microsoft Country Manager, Sriyan de Silva Wijeyeratne, whilst thanking His Excellency
the President for his words of encouragement sent especially on this momentous occasion,
went on to pay his gratitude to His Excellency for his untiring commitment towards
making the country reach its fullest potential. He further said, “The last seven
years have been tremendously exciting and littered with milestones for Microsoft
in Sri Lanka. We have demonstrated very significantly how we can support the development
of the local IT industry, and have grown into a company which is valued by all stakeholders
for its contributions that extend far beyond a ‘business as usual’ approach. The
sheer magnitude of our grants and other funding initiatives have easily made us
the strongest contributor towards ICT capacity building in Sri Lanka, but what really
inspires us most is the manner in which IT has transformed the lives of millions
during the past few years, including students and teachers mainly from outside the
cities, migrant workers, rural youth, small businesses and marginalised community
We have directly engaged over 200,000 Students and Teachers through our initiatives,
while our Gamata IT program has reached a further 80,000 people and trained 27,000.
A staggering US$ 40 million worth of free software donated over these years, have
enabled more than 25,000 University students and many NGO’s to use some of the world’s
best software for their own initiatives. Four global case studies, and many Enterprise
Agreements with top corporates have helped Sri Lankan businesses leverage IT in
many new ways, and some of our local Partners have grown their businesses significantly,
and currently employ thousands of people across the island, due to their interaction
We are deeply indebted towards the Government, our many Partners and other stakeholders
who have been our inspiration and the platform upon which many of these initiatives
have been built. They continue to inspire us to reach greater heights, and a very
energetic young Microsoft team is looking forward with great anticipation to doing
lots more in the years ahead.”
Commitment to Capacity Building
Some of the programmes initiated with simple goals, have today truly reshaped the
way computers and software are perceived and used by many, leaving an indelible
mark on the lives of many citizens, empowering them at their workplace, schools
and homes. A massive investment of over Rs.450 million in cash and over Rs. 4 billion
of Free Software donations to deserving communities and students, have paved the
way for many Sri Lankans to increase their IT literacy and adopt cutting edge software.
The most significant impact made by the company is in the education and training
sphere, where the focus is on catalysing the promotion of global knowledge standards
across the country which has affected as much as 25% of the current student population.
With investments reaching over Rs. 166 million in cash and much more in software
donations, the company has so far trained over 12,000 teachers and reached over
34,000 lives through this initiative.
The Innovative Teachers and Students National Competition conducted in partnership
with the MOE, began with just 125 entries in 2005, and in 2010, it attracted as
much as 80,000 entries with over 95% of winners coming from areas outside of Colombo.
Through the training programmes alongside the exposure given for selected teachers
at international forums, the company’s cultivated a team of educators who are capable
of igniting a passion for IT among students even from the farthest corner of the
Microsoft has initiated many projects to further this mission. The company identified
Uva Province as one of the most indigent areas of the country back in 2005, and
initiated its own “Uva Revolution” by training over 3000 teachers in IT, in that
area, within a very short time. In addition, via the installation of 400 Multipoint
technology enabled classrooms across the country, in partnership with the MOE, through
the EKSP project, Microsoft helps create an affordable solution that allows each
student to simultaneously experience IT using just one computer and a projector.
Microsoft has reached a wide range of people, through its training programs done
in partnerships with SLANA, the Vocational Training Authority, the Foreign Employment
Bureau, NGOs such as Sarvodaya, Infoshare and corporate giants like HSBC. The investment
in this area reaching over Rs.175 million were channelled to train over 45,000 individuals
including migrant workers and youth, whilst indirectly affecting over 135,000 lives.
Most recently, a partnership with the National NGO Secretariat under the patronage
of the Ministry of Defence saw registered NGO’s in Sri Lanka obtaining Microsoft
software worth over Rs.100 million for free, which would help them serve the communities
The tertiary education component of Microsoft’s outreach focuses on undergraduates
and academia with programmes such as Imagine Cup and Software for the 21st Century.
The Software for the 21st Century program has 16 state and 6 private universities
having access to free genuine Microsoft software to install on their university
laboratory, work or personal computers. Imagine Cup, is the largest student competition
in the country, has placed Sri Lanka on the global IT map with 11 teams representing
the country at the Worldwide Finals where over 325,000 students from over 100 countries
“I take immense pride on the landmark achievements made by Microsoft Sri Lanka as
it represents our commitment towards the country and its people.” commented Mr.
Akther Ahmed, President, New Emerging Markets, Microsoft South East Asia. Mr. Ken
Wye Saw, Vice-President Public Sector (Asia) for Microsoft, who was also present
at the occasion said, "I credit these milestones to the solid partnerships the company
has created with other stakeholders who are equally passionate to harness people’s
fullest potential, giving the country a distinctive competitive edge.”
A More Promising Future
Whilst acknowledging these remarkable achievements, Microsoft proudly announced
that it would further strengthen its commitment towards the country. Among the new
initiatives are, the funding the International Institute for Software Economics,
Innovation and Entrepreneurship Incorporated (IISEIE), to conduct a high-tech Economy
Survey for Sri Lanka. The purpose of this study is to better understand the needs
and opportunities for the country’s high-tech industry development, with the results
helping to develop programs that will enable the IT industry become a key driver
of economic and social development for Sri Lanka.
Further providing our younger generation with access to new technology, Microsoft
and the Ministry of Education entered into a Schools Agreement, that will enable
schools to upgrade thousands of computers with latest technology including Windows
7 and other software, an initiative on which both parties will work closely in the
years ahead. Making a landmark move, plans are underway to partner ‘Tharunyata Hetak’
on the Microsoft Gamata IT initiative to reach 1000 rural villages in the future.
The University of Sri Jayawardenapura will be incorporated into the Dynamics Academic
Alliance Program, whereby they receive latest versions of Dynamics AX and NAV software
products for Free and gain access to a vast set of resources that will enhance the
active learning experience of students. In another farsighted step to introduce
international standards to the local industrial education space, the company will
soon set up the Microsoft IT Academy Program with the Vocational Training Authority.
On the Technology front, Microsoft is expecting to transform local business practices
through its revolutionary range of products and solutions such as Microsoft Lync®,
Virtualization solutions and Cloud computing. MS Office 2010 will also soon be launched
in Sinhala as part of an ongoing partnership with ICTA.
Microsoft will also be playing its part in supporting the Government’s “Visit Sri
Lanka 2011” theme by bringing one of its regional events to Sri Lanka in May. The
event titled ‘ICT-4-Nonprofits’ is an event to share the latest technology developments,
with non-profit partners from across the region. Done in partnership with local
partner Infoshare, this will give participants from many countries worldwide will
have the opportunity to experience Sri Lankan hospitality.
As the company looks back at these eventful years it is humbled by these achievements.
Through the many facets of engagement that empower many innocent lives with the
power of ICT, the company envisions a future where every Sri Lankan from any corner
of the country be able to realize the individual’s fullest potential and take Sri
Lank to greater heights.