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Microsoft knows that the more we give, the more we get. Our commitment to global citizenship and philanthropy is no joke, and our partners are really rising to the occasion. In our new Partner Philanthropy Spotlight blog series, we’ll be sharing the stories of a number of Microsoft Partners who are bringing their talents and skills to people and places who need it most.

Today, we’re happy to feature the work of Dux Raymond Sy and Microsoft Partner AvePoint – a global ISV delivering solutions to migrate, manage, and protect Office 365 and SharePoint data as well as the 2016 winner of the Microsoft Partner of the Year Award for Technology for Good Citizenship.

The Cause

By 2020 there are estimated to be half a billion internet users across Africa, presenting a huge opportunity for African businesses and digital entrepreneurs. Considering that youth unemployment in Africa is extremely high, empowering digital entrepreneurship and creating new job opportunities for young people is critical to Africa’s transformative growth. But digital skills are still under-developed, making it harder for African economies to get the most out of the web.

Destiny Village Boarding School in Kampala, Uganda provides an education for over 1,600 students through sponsorships and has graduated more than 200 students. While they provide an excellent education, there is a lack of emphasis on building the trade skills that will help support these students long after they graduate the program. Students often struggle to find jobs in the Ugandan and larger African economy without such skills.

The Project

Dux, who is also a Microsoft Regional Director and MVP, shared that he will be going to Uganda this December as part of a non-profit initiative to mentor and train students to build their web technology skill sets. The goal of the project is to initiate a long-term partnership with schools in and around Kampala, Uganda helping to prepare students for careers in programming.

After working with non-profit World Help for a couple of years, Dux is now joining a team of professionals to go to Uganda and mentor both teachers and students. As the self-described “tech guy” of the group, Dux will be focusing his trainings on modern, cloud based technologies.

“The idea is to, first of all, train the trainers so they can impart this knowledge as they teach, and secondly, to really equip these students with the skills they need to support the growth of cloud technologies in the African economy.”

– Dux Sy, CTO, AvePoint

The Boot Camp

Here’s a breakdown of the program:

  • Lead 2 separate 2.5 day workshops on Cloud Technologies 101 for groups of about 25 students each.
  • Include long-term Computer Based Training options for students to continue learning and studying over the following year.
  • Provide a computer lab for the school.
  • Provide laptops for students in the program.
  • Provide internet access for those laptops for 1 year.

Hands-on training labs include the creation of Azure environments and interactive use-case scenarios. While they can only provide so much information in such a brief period of time, Dux says that it should be enough to cover the basics. The program is designed to expose participants to what the cloud is, its benefits, how it can help their careers, and how it can contribute to the African society.

“What’s fascinating is how in developed countries we worry about what’s going to be the next big app that we can create to make money. Over there, the question is – for example – how can the cloud help forecast the next harvest through machine learning.”

– Dux Sy, CTO, AvePoint

Dux is particularly interested in learning about the needs of local communities, the realities of food and healthcare challenges, and discovering how partners can help alleviate these concerns through cloud technology. He plans on spending time with local Microsoft partner teams to learn from their experiences and potentially arrange internships for the students he will be mentoring.

“This is not a one-time thing. Once we get there, the plan is to jump start interest and then provide ongoing resources such as free Azure and Office 365 so they can apply what they’ve learned.”

– Dux Sy, CTO, AvePoint

How Partners Can Get Involved

Dux recommends partners reach out to non-profits like World Help and simply start by offering up their unique brand of expertise or even their own technology. There is certainly no shortage of need or talent to offer. Partners interested in giving back can start by diving in to the resources provided by Microsoft Philanthropies. Tech Soup is another great resource to identify other ways partners can give back.

“The idea of being able to make a difference for the next generation or even just one person is phenomenal. With technology we can do that.”

– Dux Sy, CTO, AvePoint

Click here to learn more and support Dux with this initiative.

How do you plan to give back this year? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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