Digi-monetization of India

In November 2016, India announced a complete ban on the 1000 and 500 rupee notes, as part of the government’s efforts to crack down on the counterfeit economy.

Operating on a 95% cash transaction basis, the sudden move to a sudden cashless economy left the majority of Indians in a panic – vendors who mostly dealt in cash, households with savings in cash, were lost.

While on a macro level, these changes were being hailed as positive and transformative, the direct impact on the economy and the citizens of India was too large to be ignored.

The government’s think tank comprising The NITI Aayog (earlier called Planning Commission of India), The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, nationalized and private banks, NASSCOM and NASSCOM Foundation, were tasked to contain this crisis. The team quickly developed an action plan to handhold citizens switch to cashless transactions.

Large scale DigiDhan Melas (translated as Digital Money Fairs) were organized across more than 100 cities with all banks and digital transaction players coming forward and showcasing their cashless solutions.

NASSCOM Foundation, provided volunteers from the IT-BPM industry through its MyKartavya (Meaning: My Duty) program to help the citizens visiting these fairs adopt at least one of the available solutions.

In its attempt to further amplify this initiative, NASSCOM Foundation created its own step-by-step, easy to understand curriculum for all categories of digital transactions including eWallets, Unified Payment gateways (UPI – Mobile app based payment solutions for direct bank account transactions), debit cards, Aadhar (India’s Unique ID equivalent to Social Security Number in USA) enabled payment system and USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) and organized volunteer drives under ‘Each One Teach Ten’ pedagogy across various cities.

The Foundation engaged with more than 2000 volunteers who in turn were able to train over 18,000 people on different cashless modes of transactions.

The Ministry of Electronics and IT also launched a free TV channel called ‘DigiShala’ (The classroom of Digital Learning and cashless financial transactions) and ‘Cashless India’ website to help the citizens get hands-on practice with cashless transaction tools. In partnership with NASSCOM, the Ministry also set up a free helpline service with a toll free number to help people complete their cashless transactions with ease. This helpline was able to resolve more than 300,000 queries from across the country.

Owing to these efforts, by March 2017, the digital transactions had grown 23 times to 6.4 million amounting for INR 24.25 billion. Today, despite cash being the single largest mode of transaction in India, people are much less dependent on it with the most underserved of the citizens having basic knowledge of how to use an e-wallet or a debit card or a UPI app or similar digital transaction tools – a massive win for a country who is not just witnessing but living a digital revolution.

Techfugees Adelaide – In Aid of Refugees

Ref.u.gee: a person who has been forced to leave their country in order to escape war, persecution, or natural disaster.

Tech.fu.gees: Empowering the displaced with technology

In 2016, UNHCR revealed approximately 22.5 million refugees worldwide: the immediate assistance has now expanded beyond finding them a place to resettle.

How do communities help the refugees learn English as a third or fourth language, integrate into society, or hone existing skills and find suitable jobs? How do they find access to legal services, government forms and connect with the communities?

These questions and many more that focused on how to improve the lives of refugees, brought people together in an inaugural hackathon #techfugeesadl organized by Techfugees Australia, and funded by Connecting Up.

The Adelaide Techfugees hackathon saw amazing teams of like-minded hackers, and humanitarians co-designing innovative tech solutions to problems such as access to services, qualified employment opportunities, and making sense of government forms.

Mentors from Connecting Up talked to teams developing solutions that included chatbots, mobile apps, real-time anonymised data, and simple social messaging to raise awareness of the untapped potential of refugees in our community.

Winners of the various rounds receive grants from tech giants such as Microsoft, and many teams go on to become tech start-ups in their own right, developing and implementing their solutions “in the wild”.

For more news from the event, visit Techfugees Australia on Facebook, or Twitter, or look for #techfugeesadl. For information on how to get involved in the next Techfugees Hackathon in your area, visit techfugees.com.

Ageing in a Technological Era

Less than 30 years ago, ageing populations were perceived to be a burden to families and society – their contributions to community were heavily outweighed by the need to look after them.

In recent years, the emergence of new technology solutions, designed and built specifically to address ageing on different levels, be it dementia, Alzheimer’s or a physically restrictive condition, has changed the way societies adapt and manage ageing populations.

Gerontechnology, a new and growing field, works to improve quality of life among the elderly by developing technological solutions to issues they experience in their daily lives.

The Hong Kong government, recognising its growing ageing population, co-hosted the first Gerontech and Innovation Expo Summit (GIES) with the Hong Kong Council of Social Service (HKCSS)

Held from 16-18 June 2017, the objective of GIES is to promote community awareness and knowledge on the application of gerontechnology, and ways to use these solutions to help the elderly.

More than 100 local and international exhibitors showcased their inventions and products at the Expo. Highlights included robotic hand device for stroke patients; automated bathing equipment and Nao, a  programmable humanoid companion robot that could perform simple exercises and read Chinese poems.

Concurrently, the Summit gathered stakeholders from different parts of the world and disciplines to exchange views and share experience in order to shed light on the strategy for further promoting development of gerontechnology in Hong Kong.

More than 20 sessions of workshops and briefings were held, with focuses on specific streams of products or services such as application of robots, elderly food, elderly product design, smart city development, smartphone applications for the elderly, walking aids and digital healthcare.

The event was designed for all sectors of the community and the general public, especially stakeholders in elderly care and the services sector, elderly persons and their family members and caregivers. It has received an overwhelming response from the public, with more than 43,000 people participating in the event.

For more information, please check out the website and Facebook page of GIES.

Reintroducing TechSoup Thailand

Nonprofits around the globe face similar challenges. However, with changes in political landscapes, shifts in economic powers and evolving market trends, these challenges often become very geographically contained.

In early May 2017, TechSoup Thailand organized a networking and learning event to understand the current challenges that Thai nonprofits are facing.

As a technology nonprofit, TechSoup kick-started the event with tech-centric ice-breaking activities : creating new hashtags for the event, taking creative selfies that display TechSoup’s logo, and ‘checking in’ to Ma:Dee’s (the co-working space where the event was held) social media page.

Sevenseas_Media ice break
Ice breaker: A participant creates inspiring hashtags for the event – #bepartofchange # ngonetworkingbkk #socialentrepreneursunite
Lak_ice break
Ice breaker: The group poses with the TechSoup logo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The event drew participants from nonprofits across various sectors from different parts of Thailand, some came from as far as Chiang Rai to learn about how to leverage on TechSoup to better serve their communities.

A presentation line up included long-established Thai nonprofits Kenan Institute Asia and Change Fusion, who shared case studies, best practices, relevant content and practical tools designed specifically for the nonprofit sector.

NEEDed, a small and growing Thai-based nonprofit was also part of the line up where they shared their capacity development projects, focusing on their experience in helping nonprofits adopt technology.

Fhi360’s Regional IT Manager, Somphop Krittayaworagul, was invited to talk about digital security and the impacts of software piracy, a grave concern for the organization and nonprofit community in recent years.

The event ended with an engaging 45 minute breakout session where participants were asked to discuss and identify (collectively) their top five challenges and needs.

i) Technology
ii) Human Resource
iii) Funding
iv) Communication
v) Government and Stakeholder relations

The last part of the breakout required participants to state how TechSoup could help them. Participants shared their struggles with technology – software, hardware, cyber security, lack of I.T skills, adaptation and implementation, and recognizing the need to use more online portals for fundraising and learning.

Clearly, being a global technology network with 66 partner NGOs with presence in 236 countries, TechSoup has partners in the various capacities and are able to bridge the gaps the sector faces.

A key outcome from the event is for TechSoup Asia-Pacific to work with the various stakeholders to design capacity-building projects for the Thai nonprofit sector.

Addressing Organizational Challenges in the Vietnamese Nonprofit Sector

In the 2016 Nonprofit Organization Annual survey carried out by Lin Center Vietnam, results showed that about 41% of the nonprofits in Vietnam who participated in the survey found technology a challenge : many commented they did not have relevant skills or knowledge on how to best utilize technology.

As a nonprofit dedicated to helping the local Vietnamese nonprofits, LIN Center addressed these technological barriers by organizing two webinars on “Effective Presentations” and “E-mail marketing” for their partner nonprofit network. The webinars which received more than sixty participants, introduced the basics of social media, and how to turn technology into a tool to improve overall organizational efficiency.

Besides the webinars, LIN Center also published online tool kits via a virtual classroom, accessible to their partner network of more than 190 civil society organizations in Vietnam. The e-learning topics include management, human resource, strategic planning, and volunteer management – common issues that nonprofits around the developing world face.

Lin Center provides an array of support services to help increase the capacity of local nonprofits in Vietnam. To learn more about Lin Center and their impact stories, click here.

The Master of Disaster: Teaching Disaster Risk Reduction Through Play

Straddling the typhoon belt and the Pacific Ring of Fire, the Philippines ranks among the top five most disaster-prone countries in the world. On average, the country experiences 14 disasters annually, affecting millions of people every year.

To create a culture of proactive disaster preparedness and response among the youth, Asia Society for Social Improvement and Sustainable Transformation (ASSIST) is developing the Master of Disaster (MOD) – an inclusive, fun-packed, and informative board game targeted at youth. The game aims to teach children of different abilities and varying educational backgrounds how to prepare and actively respond to the most common disasters in the Philippine.

Currently in its final stages of development, the project will be complemented by a digital disaster education platform that houses modules and child-friendly content that adults can share with children.

Children playing Master of Disaster boardgame

Reintroducing TechSoup Korea

South Korea is popular for several things, many of which are ICT related – the world’s fastest Internet speed, world’s most innovative country in the Bloomberg Innovation Index, Asia’s highest youth digital literacy rate, and Asia’s most e-ready government.

Combining a highly skilled and literate work force with more than 90% of the population having access to Internet, it is no surprise that TechSoup Korea has become a household name in the Korean nonprofit sector.

At the end of April, TechSoup Korea hosted an event for more than 80 people from sixty nonprofits. The half-day event re-introduced the TechSoup Global Network and TechSoup Korea’s suite of current product offerings, as well as qualification criteria, validation standards and processes (based on Korean tax laws and regulations) to qualify for technology donations.

The event ended with an engaging discussion about the technology needs and preferred software of the nonprofit community. The discussion was useful for TechSoup Korea in understanding the growing needs of civil society in Korea, and outlining a list of potential donors and products to include in the TechSoup Korea catalogue.

ICT in the outskirts of Malaysia

Yayasan Salam, our partner NGO in Malaysia, recently set up a Mini Library and Community ICT Center in a small town in Batu Caves, in the outskirts of Selangor.

The two-year project funded by HSBC Malaysia aims to bridge the digital divide between the socio-economic groups in the country. Individuals who live in smaller towns and outskirts of the city, generally cannot afford to attend paid computer lessons. Without simple technology knowledge, their employment opportunities are reduced to minimum wage blue-collar worker jobs.

Over the last few months, volunteers from Yayasan Salam have taught the basics of navigating the Internet, understanding computer components, website development, video making and editing, along with walk-throughs of common office productivity suites to more than 30 individuals in the community.

Although the center was initially set up to teach computer skills to 13-18 year olds, it has since received students from various socio-economic groups, predominantly unemployed youth and single mothers who are intent on learning new computer skills. Armed with basic technology skills, these individuals be given better job opportunities and contribute to the nation’s goal in Malaysia’s Eleventh Plan of developing human capital, towards becoming an advanced nation.

Vietnet-ICT : Going Beyond Face-To-Face Training

In partnership with Microsoft Vietnam, Vietnet-ICT, one of our partner NGOs in Vietnam, conducted several Tech4Good events over 2016. More than 150 organizations representing 117 nonprofit organizations attended the workshops held over a 3-month period in Vietnam.

In addition to the face-to-face training sessions, Vietnet-ICT also co-developed a website providing technical support and knowledge for Vietnamese nonprofits. Articles and video tutorials on technology and Microsoft products are available for nonprofits, with the goal of helping them gain access to discounted and donated software.

Since its inception in 2013, Vietnet-ICT has reached out to more than 200 organizations and helped 111 organizations receive donated and discounted software and technology.

Click here for more information on Microsoft’s Tech4Good event.

Digital Storytelling : Making or Breaking

A powerful digital campaign can make or break impact on its audience.

Recognizing the importance of good storytelling skills, our Taiwan Partner NGO, Frontier Foundation Taiwan, organised a series of storytelling workshops facilitated by media practitioners Wang Jian-Xiong, Program Director of PeoPo of Public Television and Huang, Zi-Ming, Director of Photography of Chinatimes.

The training focused on basic but often overlooked skills – digital photography and videography, how to develop a storyline and align it to an organization’s advocacy campaign, ways to increase social media fan base, and how storytelling can be used to create emotional appeal, either leading to an action or donation.

A total of 104 participants representing 89 local nonprofits attended the workshop that was co-funded by Microsoft Taiwan and Taiwan Network Information Center.

These digital skills were put to the test leading up to International Day of Persons with Disabilities on 3 December 2016. Nine NGOs participated in a week-long campaign, developing either a photo or video campaign, creating awareness on disabled issues, cross-posting and promoting their campaigns across all 9 NGOs. Many NGOs used a donated video editing software Power Director of Cyberlink to complete their videos. The campaign garnered an audience reach of 79,566.

Below are the two videos created by the participants of the workshop:

http://disable.yam.org.tw/node/4599

http://disable.yam.org.tw/node/4600

To learn more about Frontier Foundation’s work, visit their website.