The ASEAN Foundation and Microsoft are rolling out a new ICT program for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the Asian region.
With a colossal grant of US$300,000 from an initiative by software behemoth Microsoft, the new program targets young entrepreneurs aged 16 to 25 and will focus on ICT applications for SME development, according to the announcement on 18 September.
The grant is the first for Microsoft in the region in terms of scope and draw from the recently announced global Microsoft YouthSpark scheme.
Over the next 2 years, the project aims to reach 20,000 youth, women and students from 1000 SMEs in Indonesia, Thailand, The Philippines and Vietnam. ASEAN and Microsoft will work with non-government organizations ranging from SOS Children Villages in Indonesia, The Research Centre of Communication and Development in Thailand as well as Go Negosyo and the Vietnam Chambers of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) in The Philippines and Vietnam respectively.
The program hopes to tackle the rising jobless rates amongst youth, which currently stands at 13.1 percent in 2012 for South East Asia and the Pacific and is projected to hit 14.2 percent in 2017, the ASEAN Foundation said in the statement.
The initiative will see the development and delivery of ICT curriculum tailored for the needs of micro-entrepreneurs, activities such as "Train the trainer" series and an E-business incubation program amongst others.
"Our vision for this ICT program is that it will not only help increase growth and competitiveness among micro-entrepreneurs in Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam, but that its success will also lead to the future implementation of similar projects in other ASEAN countries," said ASEAN Foundation Executive Director, Dr. Makarim Wibisono.
Including the Asian region, the Microsoft YouthSpark grant aims to create opportunities for 300 million youth in more that 100 countries over a 3 year period.
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