Microsoft launches ‘Microsoft Philanthropies’
Microsoft has launched a new philanthropic effort named Microsoft Philanthropies (so that you don’t misunderstand). The initiative aims to “deliver the benefits of technology to a wider segment of the population,” and will be investing in a range of schemes from “providing access and connectivity to the public cloud to delivering digital skills training.” The organization’s chief, Brad Smith, isn’t giving away many details at the moment, but says the organization has earmarked $75 million to go toward computer education schemes over the next three years.
“Despite global expansion, increased access, and democratization of technology, the benefits of technology are not yet reaching everyone in the world,” writes Smith in a blog post announcing the venture. He cites poverty, lack of education, accessibility, and remote communities as specific barriers to this, and says that Microsoft Philanthropies will “contribute in new and more impactful ways to a societal ecosystem that connects the benefits of technology.”
It’s all a little vague, and although that’s to be expected from an organization that has only just launched, it’s perhaps worth considering what Microsoft founder Bill Gates would have to say about the project. After all, Gates has previously poured cold water on tech-focused humanitarian efforts from Google, pointing out the company’s project to bring internet access to developing countries using high-flying weather balloons isn’t as charitable as, say, sponsoring public health projects in the same countries. “When you’re dying of malaria, I suppose you’ll look up and see that balloon, and I’m not sure how it’ll help you,” Gates noted in an interview with Bloomberg Businessweek. Who knew Gates can be so scathing.
It’s still early days for the initiative, so maybe things might get clearer as they get into the whole business. The organization’s focus on education and the “root causes of digital exclusion” sounds more practical than an initiative simply trying to bring remote communities online