MANILA, August 30, 2005
(STAR) By Alma Buelva - President Arroyo personally thanked Microsoft Philippines last Thursday for its investments in the country that benefited the local ICT industry and the lives of many Filipinos over the last 10 years.

As guest of honor during Microsoft Philippines’ 10th anniversary celebration, the President lauded the way Microsoft has created an ecosystem of local business partners that helps spur economic activities around the country.

She also thanked and congratulated Microsoft for its successful corporate citizenship programs, the latest of which involves a multimillion-peso technology grant under a project called "Potensyal."

"I thank Microsoft for providing a P300-million technology grant in the form of software, training and cash for Philippine communities. Thank you also for growing the number of your local partners, adding more than 50,000 jobs," she said.

The President also used the occasion to call for national unity using Microsoft as an example of one that works for the sake of unity, especially when it comes to matters relating to the so-called "digital divide."

"Closing the digital divide needs advances in ICT…We need unity that works...Thank you Microsoft for being part of that Philippines that works for unity and bridging the digital divide," she said.

Potensyal will serve as the umbrella corporate citizenship program of Microsoft Philippines, which currently has two: Partners in Learning which focuses on the academe, and Unlimited Potential which develops outreach programs for communities.

The P300-million Potensyal program is designed to help different local industries and communities that Microsoft caters to, including public servants, overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), technology professionals, enterprises and entrepreneurs, non-government organizations (NGOs), software developers, youth, the academe and local communities.

In addition, Microsoft launched "Kapit-Bisig" in partnership with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) to provide information technology training to about 1,000 non-government organizations (NGOs) around the country.

Kapit-Bisig is part of Microsoft’s Unlimited Potential, a global initiative focused on providing technology skills for underserved individuals. Recipients of UP grants are public centers where people can gain IT skills and training to help themselves and their communities.

Kapit-Bisig, which means to lock arms, has Microsoft donating over $90,000 in cash and more than $1 million in software for the installation of computer training laboratories in 44 TESDA centers nationwide.

The centers will provide IT skills training to NGO representatives who, in turn, will train their respective beneficiary communities.

Over 20,000 Filipinos in underserved communities are expected to benefit from this "train the trainor" project.

"We have a big stake in this partnership. It cements our relationship with Microsoft as we have a similar program with them that’s global in character. With Microsoft’s help, we now have four overseas sites for Tulay…and Microsoft does this without trying to sell us anything. This, to us, is an act of very responsible corporate citizenship as we have constituents (who) require assistance that businesses can extend," Labor Secretary Patricia Sto. Tomas said.

Tulay is another Microsoft Unlimited Potential program that provides basic computer skills to OFWs to help maximize their potential while working abroad and communicate better with their families in the country.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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