Incubating Solutions to Fight Human Trafficking

Human trafficking, also known as modern slavery or forced labour, affects more than 40 million around the world. As the world’s 3rd fastest form of organized crime, worth an estimated USD150 billion dollar industry, it is easy to see the financial incentive to lure victims into forced labor. Every aspect of this crime is a business – from recruiting, transporting, organizing to monitoring and ensuring the forced labor continues.

Mirroring the stages of the traffickers, the non-profit sector working to combat this issue can briefly be categorized by their main objectives – awareness, prevention, advocacy, enforcement, shelter and resettlement. Although separate in their direction and functional objectives, these NGOs are dedicated in working towards one goal: to end modern slavery.

However, without the right tools, the majority of the non-profit sector working against the crime fall behind the sophisticated techniques used by the traffickers. Without using digitally secure networks, without knowing how to navigate cyberspace without leaving their digital footprints, without using the right communication techniques to speak to their target audience, much of their physical and digital safety is compromised, not to mention their hard work gone to waste.

Over the last few months from August to October, TechSoup conducted a series of workshops for the anti-human trafficking sector. Most participants were Malaysian based NGOs, a handful were unions and organizations set up to address the forced migrant labor issue. The training topics spanned from data visualization, digital security, communication tools, social media insights, fundraising, and even basic photography. The event culminated in an NGO Incubator Pitch, modeled after the “Shark Tank” pitches.

Each participating NGO had 10 mins to pitch their case. Their presentation started with the tech tools used to design and execute a short social media campaign of their choice; an honest sharing of their challenges and successes; and finally, the pitch: why should TechSoup and Yayasan Salam incubate and grow them?

The grand prize, worth USD1,700, comprised a customized training plan, 1-1 support, fundraising service support, mentoring with NGO start-ups, licensed software and a tech gadget of choice.

The winner of the NGO Incubator Pitch was Ziaur Rahman, a Rohingya refugee and a human trafficking victim who has been sold 7 times in his life. Since arriving in Malaysia, and obtaining his UNHCR status, Ziaur has campaigned tirelessly on violence against Rohingyas. The panel of judges were impressed with his ability to demonstrate clearly his goals, his vision for the road ahead, and mostly, that he was able to articulate how this incubation was important in ending modern slavery.

Second prize winner was Tenaganita who received a prize value of USD800, which includes customized training, licensed software and 1-1 support. Honorary mention that won a prize value of USD300 was Friends of Women Organisation, Selangor (Persatuan Sabahat Wanita, Selangor).

The winners will be incubated from November 2018 to April 2019. During this period, the winning NGOs will receive additional resources, support and help for them to campaign more effectively against human trafficking.

The project is funded by the U.S Embassy of Malaysia, and carried out in partnership with Yayasan Salam Malaysia. For more information on the project, please contact Elizabeth Liew at eliew@techsoupglobal.org

TechSoup and Yayasan Salam: Strengthening organizations in anti-human trafficking Malaysia

TechSoup Asia-Pacific and local partner, Yayasan Salam, recently completed a series of digital tech training for non-government organizations (NGOs) working in anti-human trafficking in Malaysia.

Funded by the US Embassy in Malaysia, the project was designed with three key objectives in mind: to promote a cross-country and regional learning platform; to provide and make knowledge, tech resources and tools accessible, and most importantly, to maintain open spaces in shrinking civil society space.

In line with TechSoup’s mission to empower NGOs around the world, the capacity building component of this programme is the essence of the project. However, aside from improving their digital tech capacities, the project also aims to build linkages between local, regional NGOs as well as industry experts. With a larger and stronger network, increased trust and understanding of the various key players, the ecosystem can grow, and

The curriculum is a combination of module-based topics, one-on-one consultancy with facilitators and post-workshop support, was divided into two 2-day sessions, one in August and another in September.

The modules included data visualisation, online storytelling techniques, and basics of mobile photography, basic graphic design and video making tools using open source software, investigative journalism techniques, and fundraising and donor campaigns. Registration stood at 42 NGOs over the total 4 day session, with a mix of NGOs working on awareness, prevention, advocacy, resettlement and shelter.

The series of workshops continued with follow-up trainings on topics in demand, such as graphic design and simple video making tools, conducted by TechSoup Asia-Pacific’s Program Manager Jed Adao.

Malaysia is a popular destination country for traffickers. Victims come from all walks of life around the Asia-Pacific region – some are women who are sex trafficked, or trapped in domestic helper jobs; male migrant labourers who work in the construction sector in modern slavery conditions, many of whom are being held on debt bondage; or refugees who have been sold, resold and exploited in many ways.

Despite the significant efforts of eliminating human trafficking, Malaysia was downgraded to Tier 2 Watchlist on the 2018 Trafficking in Persons list. Over the year, the government convicted more traffickers, increased criminal enforcement of unauthorised passport retention, granted more freedom of movement, and among the larger moves – the Malaysian government tripled its funding for three NGO-run shelters in the country, and opened its first trafficking-specific court.

The year 2020 holds much significance for Malaysia. Back in 1991, the nation announced Wawasan 2020 : the year that Malaysia would achieve developed nation status level. It has since been pushed to 2050.

In recent years, with the escalation of human trafficking cases that has placed Malaysia in negative international limelight, the government has made significant efforts to improve the situation, increasing enforcement and prosecutions, making amendments to current legislations to protect the migrant communities. By 2020, the government hopes that Malaysia will promoted to Tier 1 on the Trafficking in Persons list.

Bridging HIV Awareness and Technology

In a program led by LINKAGES Indonesia, a consortium of FHI360 and PACT, TechSoup Asia-Pacific and our Indonesia partner NGO Kitabisa  are currently managing a program dedicated to strengthening of the digital outreach capacities of working in HIV prevention.

The program includes a 16-module ICT training that has been divided into four workshops held across a three-month period. The 16-module course was specifically designed to focus on utilizing popular online communication tools, resources and methodologies that outreach workers can use to communicate with key populations.

Partaking in the 3-month training program are 20 local grassroots non-profit organizations within and outside of Jakarta. In preparation for the program, TechSoup and Kitabisa rolled out an ICT Assessment survey, a comprehensive set of questions to determine the organizational ICT capacities, from hardware, gadgets and servers, usage of software licenses, data protection, to their digital outreach capacities. The surveys also measured capacities on two accounts – on an organizational level,  and as individuals from the organization.

Using results from the ICT assessment as a baseline indicator of each NGO’s knowledge and skill sets, TechSoup and implementing partner Kitabisa were able to design a digital outreach curriculum to help the NGOs improve their digital outreach methods.

Through these assessments, results showed:

  • Among the 20 organizations, the pre-assessment shows 80% of the organizations identifying themselves as having low knowledge in digital security measures. Although many of the respondents were aware of their vulnerability to digital attacks,the majority of them do not perform backups on their devices.
  • Around 70% of the NGOs responded positively to social media usage, knowledge and capacity in relation to their digital outreach work. However, despite their familiarity with social media platforms and instant messaging, the biggest challenge for them was a lack of a structured digital outreach plan.

As HIV outreach campaigns primarily deal with sensitive information, this also shows how ensuring proper understanding and employment of digital security measures should also be considered as a top priority – one that is as important as improving digital outreach methods.

Outside of the trainings, participating organizations also received a tailored package of software via TechSoup’s technology donations program. These packages are inclusive of organizational essentials such as operating systems and productivity suites, along with antivirus licenses to help boost their current digital security measures, and Boost Training and Support packages to continuously feed them with learning content even after the workshops have ended.

Overall, while the collaboration in itself seeks to only empower 20 local organizations, the long-term impact of these organizations’ online visibility, and subsequently, outreachto the key HIV populations is very promising.

NGO Needs Mapping Workshop in Manila

Tech planning, one of the more overwhelming tasks to take on, particularly for NGOs whom typically struggle with their access to IT personnel or expertise. Despite this limitation, our conversations with NGOs – regardless of size and type – consistently reveal their drive towards learning more, and hopefully, being able to manage and update their IT systems independently. Simply, it’s just a matter of knowing how and where to begin their learning process.

In looking to answer the essential question (of where or how do we begin), TechSoup APAC arranged TechSoup Local in Manila, Philippines. TechSoup Local is a workshop style meetup, for this session, the team focused on providing a guided mapping experience of local NGOs’ technology needs. By allowing them to simply voice out all of their concerns, TechSoup is then able to identify larger concerns and introduce to the NGOs the existing donations and discounts that would be relevant for each.

Held last July 5, TechSoup Local gathered some 30 attendees from over 19 local organizations. Throughout an entire afternoon, the team guided them into identifying their tech needs by having them list all the operational pain points they experience on a daily basis. After which, the TechSoup APAC team delivered a guided tour into TechSoup’s catalogue of donations and discounts, simplifying each offer along the way to enable NGOs to better make sense of the tech donations, and how they can be utilized to alleviate their operational pain points.

To cap off the event, the TechSoup APAC team guided the organizations on creating their own work plan that they can follow. This essentially helps them prioritize which relevant donations/discounts – if there are any – they should work on, and the necessary steps to take to furthering their understanding, acquisition and implementation of these new found resources.

Overall, the served as a launching point for NGOs that sought to help direct and nudge them towards the right direction, primarily enabling them to identify what types of tech donations and discounts are out there for them. And most importantly, it also helps begin a conversation, one about tech planning, that they will then continue to grow with both TechSoup and their own teams.

NGO Connection Day 2018 in Taiwan

Every year, we tour in different cities in Taiwan to explore new ICT innovation and trends with local nonprofits. These events are co-sponsored by the local Microsoft office in Taiwan.

In 2018, we successfully conducted 3 events: “Office 365 Advanced Training for NPOs” in Taipei and Kaohsiung cities,  and “Basic Data Analysis for NPOs” in Taipei. We had total of 155 attendees from 109 NPOs joining together. These included attendees of varying professions such as including IT professionals, administrative staff, and social workers to name a few. This time around, we invited participants to bring their own laptops and divided them into different groups so that they may learn and discuss in a collaborative nature.

For the Office 365 events in Taipei and Kaohsiung, we focused on helping the attendees learn to discover more about Office 365’s various services, such as SharePoint, Power App and Flow. In addition, we also invited NPO partners to share their own experiences in implementing the solution and their future vision of enhancing organizational management and data accumulation.

On the other hand, in the “Basic Data Analysis for NPOs” event, we focused on giving participants a general idea of how they may use Power BI Desktop to do the data cleaning, analysis, and visualization through its charts and graphs. In addition, participants were also taught how Power BI integrates with Office 365 suites for advanced collaboration and data management.

For more details, please visit TechSoup Taiwan’s blog.

Mapping NGO Capacities Across the Region

Looking at a room of 30 people from all walks of the nonprofit sector, I wasn’t sure my planned session was going to work. The participants represented very diverse causes – from HIV intervention and prevention, cultural restoration and preservation, empowerment of rural farmers, faith-based child protection, food wastage, disability rights, to LGBTQ and gender rights. Would they be able to relate to each other’s challenges, goals and missions?

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That first session, and the four more over the next few months worked. Feedback from participants were positive, “This is exactly what we needed : someone to help to identify our pain points, and map out a plan to help us achieve our goals.”

Others echoed the same sentiment: “It is easier when we map out the goals, determine the most important one, then list the things we need to do to achieve the goal. It was helpful to learn to prioritize, and see how much technology is needed in each action. Otherwise, we just don’t know where to start, or how to start.”

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Having designed and facilitated five workshops for a variety of nonprofits from 15 countries in the region, including the Federation of Micronesia, an important theme has become clear:

As TechSoup continues to empower civil society around the world, it has also become part of our goal to help the nonprofit sector map out a sustainability path. By helping nonprofits list out their goals, map and prioritize major steps in their action plan, it is also imperative for TechSoup to help them understand the role of technology in achieving their goal. Ideally, this reduces the fear of having to embrace and implement technology, all at once.

Over time, we hope that these nonprofit organizations with great visions, can take the lessons learned from the small workshop sessions and use that to pave successes ahead.

worrkshop 3 NGO Group workshop breakout

Vietnam’s New Community Philanthropic Tool

A central part of developing civil societies is to have an accessible integrated platform with relevant philanthropy resources that the local nonprofit sector can tap into.

Based on this concept, LIN Center Vietnam developed a unique bi-lingual platform “Vietnam Causes” marrying the various elements of philanthropy – skilled volunteerism, funding opportunities, a local nonprofit directory and community hub, and philanthropy resources.

Vietnam Causes is mutually beneficial to both the corporate and civil society sector: the extensive nonprofit directory allows corporates to look for partners who are aligned with their goals, match skilled volunteers to on-going community projects and post funding opportunities. Concurrently, civil society players who are registered in the database can list the social problems their organization is working on, the projects that need funding, and share upcoming events and resources that other organizations might find useful.

The LIN Center’s network currently serves more than 250 grassroots nonprofit organizations, more than 200 volunteers, individual philanthropists, and aims to “help local people address local needs”.

For more information on the platform, please contact Fundraising and Communications Manager at vicao@linvn.org

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.

NGO Connection Day 2017 in Taiwan

Every year, we tour different cities around Taiwan to explore new ICT innovation and trends with the nonprofit communities.

In 2017, we hosted three events, including CEO Day, in Taipei and Kaohsiung. Topics covered included “NGO Case Studies: Appliances of Azure and Office 365”, “NGO Website Design in Mobile Age” and group discussions among CEOs.

The events, co-sponsored by the local Microsoft office, saw 282 attendees, representing 196 local nonprofits.

For more details, please visit TechSoup Taiwan’s blog.

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More Photos of 2017 NPO Day.

2017ceodayComplete report of CEO Day facilitation process.

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.

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Ice breaker: A participant creates inspiring hashtags for the event – #bepartofchange # ngonetworkingbkk #socialentrepreneursunite
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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.