What’s happening at TechSoup Asia?
Asia/Pacific is a region of stunning growth and potential alongside some of the most desperate needs on the planet. We at TechSoup Asia believe in the power of NGOs and other change agents to improve outcomes across a range of social issues.
We’re expanding our programs to six countries in SE Asia: Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam, in partnership with our sponsor Microsoft and two of our in-region partners, Connecting Up Australia and the Hong Kong Council of Social Service (HKCSS). This means reaching out to more than 250,000 new NGOs and civil society organizations with technology products, information and support.
We’re developing innovative offerings including:
• A regional technology conference in Hong Kong focused on civil society organizations, in partnership with HKCSS and NTEN. This will be the first of its kind in Asia/Pacific and we expect up to 500 participants from around the region. The event will feature international and local speakers, and scholarships will also be available for those in need.
• An IT resource center for NGOs in Malaysia, in partnership with SOLS 24/7. Today NGOs who enter the technology marketplace are at high risk of paying too much and getting too little in return. We will change that equation by offering quality services for as little as 25% of commercial rates, while simultaneously providing training and skills development for high potential youths.
We’re also expanding beyond NGOs and engaging community-based organizations, technology activists, and social entrepreneurs. In most of these countries, the number of NGOs officially registered constitutes a small fraction of the total. We seek to engage, understand and promote these “off the grid” NGOs who in many cases are leveraging technology in creative ways. For example in Thailand, the BIG Trees project helps raise environmental awareness and has more than 26,000 fans.
People motivated to make change happen in the world increasingly look to alternatives to the traditional NGO model, such as social enterprises or individual activism. We’re working with promising new organizations like GIVE.sg in Singapore which provides an online giving portal with no transaction fees to recipient NGOs. Their co-founder, Aseem Thakur, volunteers his own time to lead the Netsquared Singapore group.
There is a staggering amount of innovation and change happening in APAC. The Asia Development Bank reports that by 2050, per capita income could rise six fold and reach Europe's levels today. Kara Swisher from AllThingsD points out the key factor, human capital: "As you see the convergence of all these entrepreneurs in Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Korea, it's inevitable you're going to get world-changing companies." In the social sphere as well, we find strong thought leaders emerging, and we're engaging with them to understand and embrace new models of collaboration. We believe our unique value is in uniting cutting edge ideas with a global platform to bring them to life.
Picture above: TechSoup Asia partner meeting on Bintan Island, Indonesia.