At a community center in Bangkok, small-business owners are logging on to the Internet for the first time, using Microsoft Word, Excel spreadsheets, and other business software. These local entrepreneurs—including fruit sellers, garment makers, and artisans—are learning their technology skills courtesy of the multinational computer firm Hewlett Packard (HP).
EDC’s Bangkok office is spearheading this effort, which brings HP’s philanthropic arm together with a local university and other agencies in a novel approach to corporate and community relations. The program identifies and trains local business people to integrate information technology into their business practices in ways that will extend their reach and profits. The program is expanding to 10 countries in the Asia-Pacific region.
“We’re bringing MBA 101 skills to ‘Ma and Pa’ shops in the slums of Bangkok,” explains EDC’s Angela Chen.
The program is just one example of how EDC works with corporate partners on social responsibility efforts, according to Prawit Thainiyom, EDC’s project officer in Thailand. “We help donors articulate goals and then tailor programs that match those goals with local needs. Businesses want to invest money in order to develop their brand image; communities are looking for resources to improve health and education. We bridge these needs by first asking, What does the donor want? What does the community want? Then we develop sustainable programs to meet both needs.”
In other efforts, EDC is partnering with Deutsche Bank to support AIDS orphans and their caregivers in five countries across South and Southeast Asia. The program encourages caregivers to develop home-based, sustainable activities such as sewing so they can better support children in their care. EDC also consults to Adidas in China, developing recommendations for improved labor practices in its Asian factories.
Originally published on August 31, 2007