How TechSoup Asia-Pacific is Helping the Next Generation of Young ASEAN Leaders

In March, TechSoup Asia-Pacific (APAC), in partnership with Open Contracting Partnership (OCP), held a month-long workshop series for the Young Southeast Asian Leaders Initiative (YSEALI) Program. Launched in 2013, YSEALI is the U.S. government’s signature program to strengthen youth leadership development and networking in Southeast Asia.

As part of this Program, TechSoup Asia-Pacific helped lead a workshop that connected over 90 youth leaders from across ASEAN to new knowledge and tools to help them advocate for civil liberties and government transparency in their own countries. Some highlights from the workshop include:

  • Youth leaders located in Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor Leste, and Vietnam attended over 30 sessions stretched throughout the month.
  • Participants had the opportunity to discuss different topics with speakers and experts from varying backgrounds and industries, including technical subject matter experts in anti-corruption and civic engagement; social and political activists, policy makers, and influential change-makers from various sectors of civil society, government and public institutions, and private industries.
  • 10 of the 14 project groups formed during the program were awarded a total of $25,000 in seed grants through a project pitching and panel review process.

In what follows, we’ll take a closer look at this powerful workshop, and illustrate how TechSoup Asia-Pacific along with trusted partners are tackling some of the most pressing issues in the region today.

Preparing New Anti-Corruption ASEAN Leaders
Data collected by Freedom House in 2021 about the health of democracy around the world illustrates how many countries across ASEAN, besides Timor Leste, are seeing a rapid decline in civil liberties. To help strengthen civil society, the workshop enabled youth leaders to promote transparent governance and democracy in their countries by connecting them with like-minded peers, and more than 64 speakers from around the world including passionate anti-corruption and youth activism advocates and dedicated public servants and officials.

Specifically, the plenary included some respected advocates and changemakers like Francesco Checchi of UNODC; Thom of Open Ownership and Bernadine Fernz of Open Contracting Partnership. The national agency that tackles corruption in Malaysia(the one and only such agency in Malaysia) — also shared some of their work on anti-graft busts in that country.

Next Steps Toward Real-World Change
At the end of the Workshop Series, the emerging leaders formed 14 different groups and presented unique project proposals for the chance to win a US$2,500 seed grant to implement their solutions in tackling pressing issues of good governance in their communities. Winning projects aimed to address a variety of challenges:

  • Increase the participation of youth engagement in decision-making on the issue of good governance in Cambodia
  • Engage young leaders on gender-responsive budgeting for a more inclusive government and society
  • Increase young people’s ability of digital advocacy on anti-corruption issues in Indonesia
  • Train young officers to protect their individual welfare in the workplace
  • Nurture a culture of informed and engaged Filipino youth voters
  • Strengthen local democracies by adopting chatbot technology
  • Increase digital literacy to promote good governance practices
  • Improve public participation and awareness in government policy making

About TechSoup Asia-Pacific
As part of the TechSoup Global Network, TechSoup Asia Pacific delivers technology resources, tools, and services to over 45,000 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) across 43 countries in Asia Pacific. TechSoup Asia Pacific works closely with a regional network of X service delivery partners to help small to medium-sized NGOs access necessary technology and solutions. Find out more about how TechSoup Asia Pacific is working to help NGOs leverage technology to better fulfill their missions