Microsoft Corporation Teams with the U.S.-Middle East Partnership Initiative and Creative Associates to Empower Libya’s Emerging Civil Society
LIBYA — The Microsoft Corporation awarded a substantial grant of US $293,266 on March 27, 2012 to provide Microsoft software and professional training to Libyan civil society groups supported under the U.S. Department of State’s U.S.-Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) through the Community-Driven Grants Program. This locally-driven initiative, implemented by Creative Associates International, is providing technical assistance to build the operating capacities and long-term sustainability of civil society organizations. The initiative encourages civic participation to improve community relationships with governmental and non-governmental institutions across Libya.
Following the 2011 revolution, talented young leaders began creating dynamic civil society organizations in Libya. MEPI’s Community-Driven Grants Program helps key organizations improve their institutional capacity to define a democratic and participatory context during this formative period in Libya’s political development. With funding from the U.S. Department of State, Creative provides grants to civil society organizations to enable them to augment activities which they have identified as advancing their missions. Complementary training helps these emerging leaders develop their administrative, financial, and programmatic capacity to sustain and deepen Libya’s process of democratic change. The Community-Driven Grants Program actively seeks opportunities for these civil society organizations to work with their own government to identify and address development and reform priorities.
Microsoft is helping fill a critical information technology infrastructure gap after decades of dictatorship. Despite having twice the per capita income of neighboring Egypt, Libya’s access to computer technology significantly lags behind Egypt’s. Internet reaches only 5.6% of Libyans, compared to 24% in Egypt and 33.9% in neighboring Tunisia. Many of these Libyan civil society activists have limited experience using technology to engage in political or social action. Connecting these activists with one another and the world and getting the right tools to them is a priority for their productivity and institutional development.
Civil society work demands regular communication to a wide range of audiences, including the development of flyers, brochures, reports, financial management and public presentations. By providing access to programs such as Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint and helping train Libyans who were never exposed to these essential tools, Microsoft’s grant is substantially advancing efforts to help civil society groups to become better organized, effective, and sustainable.
Microsoft-sponsored trainings will help ensure Libyan civil society organizations can manage their finances and contact databases; develop written outreach materials and reports to better communicate their efforts; and prepare compelling public presentations using Microsoft’s powerful and sophisticated software tools. Licensed software will also protect these organizations from online security threats, viruses, and spam-ware engendered by pirated software.
This public-private partnership is supported under MEPI’s Information Technology Partnership Program (ITP), which links MEPI grantees with major IT corporations. Through the ITP, local NGOs in the Middle East and North Africa are able to access the latest computer software, hardware, and related training to improve the effectiveness of their projects, build organizational capacity, and assist with cementing the long-term sustainability of their work. MEPI’s ITP, with the assistance of Creative Associates in Libya, is making a clear difference at a critical moment for courageous and dedicated citizens who are working to define a better future for themselves and their country.