Here’s What’s Good about Microsoft YouthSpark’s #Innovate4Good

Microsoft YouthSpark Innovate4Good JuuchiniMicrosoft together with the Kenya ICT Board has unveiled the Innovate for Good program; a 2-day event that was attended by over 200 youth from various colleges and universities across Kenya. The Innovate4Good is a global program under the Microsoft YouthSpark Initiative that enables youth to collaborate, inspire and support each other while using technology to make a difference in their communities. The program aims at empowering young people interested in social innovation and social entrepreneurship to turn their ideas into reality by taking them through a set of training and activities.

The Kenyan chapter of #Innovate4Good will focus on developing innovative solutions around education, health, water and county devolution development.

Jeffery Avina, the Citizenship Director Microsoft Middle East and Africa said, “The Innovate for Good  program will collaborate with the Kenya Open Data Initiative to help the youth identify existing problem areas and the associated public data, then use this information to develop solutions that positively impact their communities. Whether their interest is in volunteering, working at a nonprofit, or starting their own venture, we will support them to move their ideas forward”.  He also believes that

In his speech, Victor Kyalo, Deputy CEO of the Kenya ICT Board duly noted that for Kenya to become a top ICT hub as the Vision2030 document outlines, the country will need to produce tens of thousands of highly skilled professionals to take up IT related jobs, lead and start technology companies and create innovative products for the ICT industry. Initiatives like Innovate4Good provide young people with the tools and skills to start businesses and create the space they need to be imaginative, artistic and resourceful.

The support that Microsoft is has been giving through Microsoft YouthSpark is exactly what young people need because it supports entrepreneurial risks (promoting trial and failure without fear thus creating a perfect environment for innovation). All entrepreneurs know that failure is a vital part of success.

The Innovate for Good forum featured 2 broad tracks on the days that it ran with the first day focusing on the developer track while the 2nd day focused on a general track for non-techie youth drawn from a pool of existing Microsoft Student Partners, Dream spark beneficiaries, past Imagine Cup competitors, AIESEC and Microsoft YouthSpark recipients from various colleges and universities across the country.

The developer track, moderated by Kenya ICT Board’s Kaburo Kobia, sought to encourage local developers to build applications on the Windows 8 platform that can be published in both the Microsoft store as well as the open data portal. Kenyan developers can now easily build, submit and sell their apps through the Windows store with favorable economic terms. There is little learning curve as local developers can use their existing skills, existing code and languages plus frameworks preferences to write for the Windows platform.

The non-technical youth track that was held on the 2nd day focused on identifying outstanding ideas in the areas of social innovation and social entrepreneurship.

The youth whose ideas were selected will have an opportunity to attend an online course for 9-10 weeks to help them turn their ideas into reality and prepare them for the application for seed funding from Venture Capitalists and Angel Investors.

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