Gillian Pearl from PCS International addressing the gathering

Microsoft Sri Lanka under a Youth Spark grant together with World Bank and Fusion, the ICT arm of Sarvodaya, conducted ‘Innovation for Impact’, a two-day workshop designed to educate and provide ICT solutions to improve the local NGO sector with skills that will touch the lives of rural youth.

The workshop, which brought together representatives from 23 non-profit organizations from across the island, was held with the intention of educating and building awareness amongst them on the importance and proper use of ICT and how it can enhance their community projects thus being able to train and reach youth with IT skills .

All of the NGOs were involved in projects that concentrated mainly on the empowerment of women which was a key focus area of the workshop. Experts from the private sector and the donor community were brought in to address the gathering on a number of important issues including how to build capacity, create opportunity as well as how they can collate their work into high impact presentations, which would secure them the right kind of funding from world organizations to serve Sri Lankan society especially women.

Rolande Pryce, Operations Advisor World Bank Sri Lanka and the Maldives says that Sri Lanka has made some strides to improve access to Information Communications Technologies (ICT), creating opportunities for development.

“ICT is a powerful transformative tool and it has revolutionized the way people think, behave, work and also advocate for change. The ‘Innovate for Impact’ initiative is especially intended to connect CSOs promoting women’s empowerment with ICT tools.” said Pryce.

The two-day workshop provided participants with the opportunity to learn, network and brainstorm on how ICT solutions could be effectively integrated within existing projects. Proposal writing, basic Web Development, Social Media Marketing, as well as the fundamentals of using Microsoft Office were included in the areas covered.

Gillian Pearl and Saleemah Ismail from PCS, a consulting firm that helps companies to create Corporate Responsibility Programs with a measurable positive impact on communities, customers, employees and shareholders, along with team member Marcus Harvey from Infoxchange, were the main facilitators of the two-day event, imparting their knowledge and sharing new ideas with the local NGOs.

Marcus Harvey said, “What I really like about working with Sri Lankan non-profit organizations is that it gives us a real opportunity to teach them how to use technology to help build the community and help to find new employment options for the people they work with so that they can earn more money and look after their families more effectively.”