June 7th 2011, Colombo - Creating a platform to share ideas, expertise and experiences
on the benefits of information technology and how it can be leveraged to create
greater value across communities, Microsoft Sri Lanka hosted the “Connecting Communities”
forum for not-for-profit, social service organizations and charities across the
country. Microsoft’s Connecting Communities is a one-day event designed to share
the latest information about Microsoft technology and the way in which it can help
organizations achieve their mission. This gave an opportunity for local social service
organizations to learn and share ideas on how to make use of ICT tools and technologies
as a platform to deliver better value to the community groups they operate in and
how ICT can help them be more productive in the long run.
The forum was attended by social service organization leaders and other stakeholders,
both local and international, who were privy to topics relating to latest technological
tools and software solutions such as cloud computing, networking, resource planning,
and document storage solutions, that help these not for profit organizations collaborate
and communication more efficiently and effectively across boundaries. The objective
of this knowledge sharing session was to showcase the unlimited possibilities available
to these organizations to make a greater impact among their community groups with
increased accessibility to ICT tools and technologies available. Participants were
able to share ideas whilst gaining insights in to their peer's experiences about
the technology they use within their respective organizations and the outcomes they
have seen as a result.
Microsoft Community Affairs was one of the first corporate community investment
programs in the high-tech industry, which today manages and administers all of Microsoft's
community investment programs across the globe. Today, Microsoft has gained reputation
as one of the largest contributors in the industry who is making a greater impact
on many lives with the help of technology.
With technology playing an important role for nonprofits, charities and community
organizations across Sri Lanka, Microsoft’s Connecting Communities event focused
mainly on how not-for profit organizations and charitable organizations can benefit
from technology. Microsoft provides support to the not for profit and community
sector in Sri Lanka through a variety of programs, but primarily through its Software
Donation Program. Through its initiative which offers free software for not-for-profit
organizations, Microsoft Sri Lanka has demonstrated its commitment to bring the
benefits of latest IT tools and technologies to a large group of beneficiaries who
in turn touch the lives of many Sri Lankans.
The event partners were TechSoup Global and Infoshare in association with the Asian
Development Bank. TechSoup Global works with Microsoft on many initiatives, one
of the biggest being to facilitate and increase the scale of the company’s software
donation program. Infoshare Guarantee Limited is one of Microsoft’s long standing
not for profit partners in Sri Lanka who helps facilitate Microsoft's goal to build
ICT skill capacities and related employment opportunities for the country’s youth.
The key note speech was delivered by Mr. Lakshman Hulugalle, Director General, National
NGO Secretariat, who in his address reiterated the growing importance of the role
played by these not for profit organizations in creating real value for the nation
and making a lasting impact on the communities they operate in, enabling all Sri
Lankans to become positive contributors towards economic growth.
Country Manager of Microsoft Sri Lanka, Mr. Sriyan de Silva Wijeyeratne welcoming
the guests remarked on the contributions made by the company over the last seven
years of its existence. He highlighted the many facets of Microsoft Sri Lanka’s
Community Affairs programs that span across many audiences and various stakeholder
groups. Mr. de Silva Wijeyeratne also made it an occasion to thank all organizations
and community groups, who had joined forces with Microsoft Sri Lanka, to bring the
magic of software closer to millions of lives across the island.
Another key highlight in the agenda was the live demonstration of the creative new
ideas presented by the Imagine Cup 2011 Sri Lanka finalist teams. Imagine Cup, as
the world’s premier student technology competition is where local university students
get the chance to bring their innovative ideas in to life using latest technology.
And earlier this year six teams from five local universities made it to the prestigious
final round of the competition, based on this year's Imagine Cup theme, which was
to "imagine a world where technology solves some of the toughest problems". This
forum incidentally, provided an opportunity for these teams to showcase their winning
ideas to a captive audience who shares the same vision on behalf of their respective
Other speakers at the forum comprised of expert technical resource personnel from
both Microsoft and nonprofit partner organizations who demonstrated the capabilities
of some of the latest Microsoft technological solutions. Ms. Clair Deevy, Manager
of Microsoft's Community Affairs and Citizenship programs in Asia, and Ms. Janakie
Karunaratne, Manager Community Affairs, Microsoft Sri Lanka outlined the key objectives
of the forum and the benefits it offered to participants by offering a platform
to learn from each other.
Prominent speakers from leading local and regional social service organizations
such as Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne, General Secretary of the Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement
of Sri Lanka, Ms. Shai Coggins, Manager of Communications and Web Content at Connecting
Up Australia, Ms. Hilda T. Cleofe Executive Director of Corporate Network for Disaster
Response (CNDR), Mr. Koh Juay Meng President of the Supply-Chain Council, South
East Asia Chapter and Board member (voting) of Supply-Chain Council Global shared
their views and experiences on how technology can be employed successfully to create
greater good for the society we live in and more specifically to uplift the living
standards of underserved communities and create unlimited possibilities for youth
and children in those communities.