Microsoft Donates Software to Create IT Jobs in Kenya

(Ping! Zine Web Hosting Magazine) – Microsoft recently announced a donation of software with a retail value of $250,000 to Digital Divide Data (DDD). The grant, from Microsoft’s Unlimited Potential program, will support DDD to bring its social business model to Kenya. The new venture will provide services such as data entry, XML conversion and digital preservation for publishers, libraries, content hosts, academic researchers and businesses.

Microsoft’s software will be used to provide training and client services for a business process outsourcing (BPO) social enterprise that will employ at least 300 youth from slum areas in Nairobi over the next two years. Microsoft’s support will help youth in Kenya to build the strong computer and technology skills they need to succeed—and to enable sustained social and economic opportunity.

“We are committed to investing in innovative solutions that will help advance IT skills locally and support rising technology stars of the future,” said Jeffrey Avina, Microsoft’s Director of Community Affairs for Middle East and Africa. “This initiative is based on the realization that there is need not only to equip young people with IT skills but also to provide them with on-the-job experience. DDD’s track record of sustained social and economic development in Southeast Asia inspired us to make this unprecedented grant.”

DDD’s CEO Jeremy Hockenstein said, “We’ve relied on Microsoft products at DDD to train staff and deliver high-quality services to clients since we started in 2001. Microsoft’s motto is ‘Be What’s Next.’ We are thrilled that they share our vision of enabling talented poor youth in the developing world be a part of what’s next.” The veteran Kenyan entrepreneur, Ms. Amolo Ng’weno, is leading DDD Kenya; she is a co-founder of Africa Online and most recently served as Deputy Director at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

DDD’s services power the data entry, XML conversion and digital preservation needs of publishers, libraries, content hosts, academic researchers and businesses globally. The social enterprise competes with leading for-profit companies in the global content conversion industry while employing talented youth from disadvantaged backgrounds in developing countries. The organization employs more than 750 staff in three offices located in Cambodia and Laos. The Nairobi office opened on April 5th with more than 30 staff.