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Unlimited Potential in the Gobi March

Unlimited Potential in the Gobi March

Team Microsoft Unlimited Potential

Microsoft is well known for Windows and initiatives that improve the lives of people across the globe, as well as for its humanitarian and philanthropic efforts.

But what is perhaps less well known is that this culture of hard work, combined with a passion for helping others, is not limited to the corporate environment: it also extends to the personal lives of many Microsoft employees.

This is clearly evident in the decision by a group of staff from Microsoft’s Unlimited Potential Group to take part in the Gobi March (China) in June 2008.

The three competitors, headed by Race team leader Debby Fry Wilson, along with Orlando Ayala, a Senior Vice President at Microsoft, and William Calarese – as well as volunteers Josh Nash, Roxanne Seubert and Camilla Buttery - will participate in the 7-day, 250 kilometer race around Kashgar, running through the Kizilsu Kirghiz Autonomous Prefecture. This is one of the most remote regions of China, and usually inaccessible to tourists.

The competitors and volunteers are all working on the company’s global effort, Microsoft Unlimited Potential, to enable sustained social and economic opportunity for emerging markets through the benefits of technology.

The Unlimited Potential team is excited about being part of the race and experiencing rural China in a way that they otherwise never would, especially as the race takes them away from their offices at Microsoft’s Redmond, Washington campus and shows them first-hand the terrain, environment and circumstances in which the people in this part of the world live.

Race team leader Debby Fry Wilson is also hoping that the experience yields strong team and mission building and that the group, who works every day to help bridge the digital divide, emerges with even more awareness, passion and dedication to bringing technology to some of the world’s least fortunate people.

The Microsoft Unlimited Potential mission is to bring the benefits of information and communications technology (ICT) to the 5 billion people worldwide who currently do not have access to it through initiatives that transform education, foster local innovation, and enable jobs and economic opportunities.

This is achieved by working locally and creating new business models and educational programs, while developing technology that can be sustained and used by the people in these regions.

Microsoft, in partnership with the Chinese government’s Ministry for Information Industry (MII), has already invested in numerous initiatives in China, including pilot projects in Sichuan, Henan, Guizhou, Guangdong and Shandong provinces that test how to deliver the benefits of ICT to rural communities.

In cooperation with the Chinese government, Microsoft is also running several rural projects such as InfoWagons, which are mobile ICT training labs, and Information Service Centers in villages that provide e-government and information services, ICT access and training and agricultural training.

The Unlimited Potential team has also been looking to see what they can do to help some of the communities along the Gobi March route, and several exciting initiatives are close to being finalized, including offering technology training to schools along the way.

In addition, Microsoft is working to help raise awareness and money for Save the Children through its commitment to the Gobi March, as well as partnering with the charity around the Cyclone Nargis relief effort in Myanmar and the earthquake relief effort in China, where Microsoft is already investing resources in education and promoting access to technology.

Save the Children is also already helping the relief effort in China by providing education and protection; temporary schools and school rehabilitation; school supplies; and psychosocial support and teacher training. [More information about Save the Children’s assistance programs can be found at www.savethechildren.org.]

This confluence of Microsoft’s corporate commitment to improving the lives of people in developing nations through technology; along with the passion and commitment of its staff to execute this mission and push the boundaries of their personal lives - and the company’s global partnerships with governmental agencies and charitable organizations - is just one more step on the road to realizing the unlimited potential of the world’s citizenry.

 

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