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Growing the Next Generation of Technology & IT Leaders in the Developing World

I’m at Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) in New York City this week surrounded by many of the brightest, most passionate leaders in the world, all of whom are dedicated to solving some of the world’s toughest problems.

September 22, 2011

I’m at Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) in New York City this week surrounded by many of the brightest, most passionate leaders in the world, all of whom are dedicated to solving some of the world’s toughest problems. It’s inspiring to step back and examine all of the difficult challenges these groups are tackling: poverty, hunger, water sanitation, disease prevention, access to education and much more.

At NetHope, we are partnering with several public and private organizations to deliver on an important commitment to action: scaling the development of young IT professionals.

The youth bulge has created unprecedented challenges for educated youth in developing countries to find employment. At the same time, a serious shortage of qualified IT professionals in these regions is limiting local companies, governments and NGOs from expanding and functioning at their highest potential in the world economy. IT skills are in high demand, generating opportunities for youth, but only if they can acquire the skills and relevant work experience to make them employable.

Compounding the problem, organizations in these regions also have limited IT infrastructure; limitations that could be overcome through the use of cloud services. Cloud services have been shown to significantly increase efficiency and reduce costs in multiple programmatic areas and across back office functions of NGOs. Yet, a lack of visibility and training for cloud services has resulted in their inconsistent and inefficient use.

That’s where NetHope Academy can help. NetHope Academy bridges the IT human resources gap while addressing the need for accelerated use of cloud services. Built on best practices developed through five years of practical experience in Africa, India, Haiti and Latin America, NetHope Academy delivers 21st century IT skills training as well as internship and mentoring support to college-educated students.

NetHope launched its inaugural NetHope Academy class in Haiti in September 2010 after recognizing an acute shortage of local, qualified IT staff at NGOs working to help Haiti recover after the 2010 earthquake. In March of 2011, 39 students graduated from the program and more than 80% of them achieved full-time employment. Our commitment to action at CGI represents a new and significant expansion in the size, scope and geographic reach of our small, but highly successful program launched last year in Haiti.

During the next three years, NetHope Academy will train 1,000 interns in Latin America and Africa. We will establish our internship projects in major urban centers near academic institutions. NetHope and its partners will identify and screen promising college graduates or near-graduates, giving preference to underserved populations including women and natives of rural communities. NetHope Academy will then facilitate IT vocational courses and coordinate in-country six-month internships focused on desktop support, network administration, cloud services and telecommunications. Interns will receive daily mentoring, ongoing evaluation, job placement assistance and outplacement support.

As a strategic extension to the 'human element' addressed by NetHope Academy, NetHope will also address the 'infrastructure element' through the use of cloud services. The NetHope Humanitarian and Development Assistance Cloud initiative will both accelerate the shared access of proven cloud services as well as build a marketplace for these cloud solutions to become more readily available to the development community. This marketplace will provide essential information such as NGO ratings, case studies, technical requirements, pricing and service level agreements that would accelerate the use and re-use of key services. The marketplace will also serve as a training tool with NetHope Academy interns.

It’s worth noting that we’re not going this alone. NetHope is partnering with several NGOs, companies and foundations as part of our commitment to action including Accenture Foundation, International Rescue Committee, Mercy Corps, Microsoft, Save the Children, SOS Children’s Villages, The Nature Conservancy, Voila Foundation, Waggener Edstrom Worldwide, Winrock and World Vision on the NetHope Academy expansion and with Accenture, Cisco and HP on the NetHope Humanitarian and Development Assistance Cloud initiative.

Together, all of these groups bring a wide range of talent, expertise and passion to the table in our commitment to scale the development of young IT professionals and cloud services in underdeveloped nations.

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