Colombo, October 3, 2014: Two Sri Lankan nonprofits, Sri Lanka Ant-Narcotics Association (SLANA) and the Karuna Trust, were awarded grants from the World Bank and Microsoft, to finance development projects aimed at training youth to enhance their work through the use of coding and information technology.
The Sri Lanka Ant-Narcotics Association (SLANA) and the Karuna Trust were placed first and second respectively, from amongst over 70 proposals submitted for the annual grants project. The Family Planning Association of Sri Lanka who also made the shortlist, were placed 3rd and received an award for participation for their project on the use of coding for youth HIV prevention in the region. The first and second place winners will receive a US $ 15,000 – US $ 20,000 grant in order to implement their projects.
“Coding your Way to Opportunity” is the second regional grant competition organized and funded by the World Bank and Microsoft. Sardovaya Fusion was the coordinating and implementing partner of this initiative that aims to support youth led organizations from Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka to promote coding as an important skill for development and job creation.
“Through our global YouthSpark program Microsoft is committed to helping young people around the world to achieve their employment, education or entrepreneurial dreams. Through this technology partnership with the World Bank we see a huge opportunity for young people in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Nepal to benefit,” said Clair Deevy, Corporate Social Responsibility Lead for Asia Pacific, Microsoft.
Through the “Coding your Way to Opportunity” programme, the winners of the grants SLANA and Karuna Trust will support youth in different ways. SLANA’s programmed will support youth between the ages of 18 to 22, in Maskeliya, located in the central part of Sri Lanka to code; and will also aim at implementing a Mentorship program for these youth to meet IT professionals in the country from who they would gain valuable knowledge to further hone their skills. The Karuna Trust concentrates on a programming course for the youth in Rambuka, Rathnapura; where youth studying at the Rambuka village will be given training as well as support for job placements post training.
Gabriela Aguilar, Senior Communications Officer for the South Asia region at the World Bank who participated in the event and was also on the panel of judges said, “We are very excited to partner again with Microsoft and Sardovaya Fusion to empower youth led organizations. Promoting Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Literacy is critical to create jobs. Coding knowledge is a skill that can open many development opportunities for a new generation of South Asians.”
The selected finalists met the competition requirements which included coding knowledge, use of technology in the delivery of services to beneficiaries and providing employment opportunities.
“We received some very encouraging results for this year’s contest from the respective countries and shortlisted three from Sri Lanka, four from Bangladesh and three from Nepal. All of them submitted very interesting youth initiatives,” said Janakie Karunaratne, Manager, Community Affairs, for Microsoft Sri Lanka.
The winners from Bangladesh and Nepal were Robotics Association of Nepal (RAN) and Better Stories Limited from Bangladesh.
Apart from Gabriela Aguilar, the judging panel consisted Clair Deevy from Microsoft and Imran Furkan, Former Executive Director of SLASSCOM & Chairman of the Resource Syndicate (Pvt) Ltd. The panel ensured that the winning projects came under all the criteria, including the capability to reach completion within the 12 month period of the disbursement of the grant. The strength of their sustainability plans and the capacity to be replicated beyond the project period, were also taken into consideration amongst others.