The first of its kind, the Microsoft Enabler Program provides cloud & AI training for PwDs, accessibility education for employer partners, and inclusive hiring from non-profit organizations supporting PwDs.
Microsoft recently launched a program to increase employability for people with disabilities (PwDs). The Microsoft Enabler Program pioneers disability inclusive workplaces across Asia Pacific by removing the barriers for a more diverse workforce. With more than 1 billion PwDs in the world, disability-inclusive employment can lead to 1-7% rise in GDP in Asia Pacific through increased economic productivity. [United Nations ESCAP]
The program will pilot in five markets: Korea, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand, before expanding to the rest of the region by the end of 2020.
Organizations committed to the program will receive training from the Non-Profit organizations (NPOs) to become inclusive employers, and these businesses will in turn provide job shadowing, internships, mentoring and opportunities in tech jobs for PwDs identified by the NPO’s. Microsoft will provide industry required training in cloud & artificial intelligence, as well as a platform for all three to collaborate towards an inclusive future for every person.
“In today’s workplace, it is imperative that we include everyone, and accessibility is that vehicle to inclusion. It is a responsibility and an opportunity. There are no limits to what people can achieve when technology reflects the diversity of everyone who uses it,” said Vivek Puthucode, Chief Partner Officer at Microsoft in Asia Pacific. “Inclusive organizations outperform their peers and attract and keep top talent, and we have seen how inclusion drives innovation.”
Microsoft will provide online training in data engineering and programming, cloud computing on Microsoft Azure and application development in GitHub to the PwDs. These modules will provide crucial technology skills that are globally recognized, and highly sought after in our digital first and remote everything world, therefore providing them with a learning path for industry leading skillsets that improves their employability. For the employer partners, Microsoft will conduct workshops on inclusive design and assistive technologies enabled through artificial intelligence on Microsoft Azure.
“At the heart of the Microsoft Enabler Program is a comprehensive accessibility model that will not only improve inclusion of people with disabilities across Asia Pacific for years to come; it also connects to local talent from underrepresented communities and improves our society. 2020 has been a difficult year for everyone and when we look at the incredible number of businesses and governments who have pivoted to cloud with Microsoft in the region, tech roles and digital skills will be the backbone of the economic recovery every country. And one of the ways we can enable an inclusive recovery is by empowering every person and every business with technology skills,” continued Vivek.
Microsoft’s partners in the region commit to providing opportunities for PwDs by providing job shadowing, training, mentoring and internship attachments in technical roles. These opportunities will be offered in close collaboration with the NPO’s who will match the most suitable PwD profile, skills, qualifications, and ambitions with the requirements of the role.
“Accessibility starts with building a culture of inclusion in the workplace. The more you focus on it, the more your culture will improve and evolve. The company culture and workplace environment are important elements of a successful accessibility program. At Microsoft, our vision and strategy of accessibility was to embed inclusive, accessible design into the fabric of the company. And we want to enable every organization to be inclusive,” concluded Vivek.
Aitken Spence invests in yet another renewable energy project in hydropower
Dr. Parakrama Dissanayake – Deputy Chairman and Managing Director Aitken Spence PLC accepting the share transfer form from Harsha Abeywickrama – chairman Sunshine Energy Ltd; in the presence of Ms. Stasshani Jayawardena – Executive Director Aitken Spence PLC, Dr. Rohan Fernando – Executive Director Aitken Spence PLC, Ms. Nilanthi Sivapragasam – Chief Financial Officer Aitken Spence PLC and Leel Wickremarachchi – Managing Director of the power segment from Aitken Spence PLC. Shyam Sathasivam – Managing Director, Sunshine Energy Ltd. and Harin Udeshi – Director, Waltrim Energy Ltd.
Aitken Spence PLC recently acquired Waltrim Energy Limited, a subsidiary of Sunshine Holdings PLC for Rs. 900 million. The company contributes 6.6MW to the national grid via three mini hydropower plants located in the Nuwara Eliya district, namely of Waltrim Hydropower (Private) Limited, Upper Waltrim Hydropower (Private) Limited and Elgin Hydropower (Private) Limited. Waltrim hydropower draws energy from Kothmala Oya, Upper Waltrim hydropower and Elgin hydropower from Dambagasthwala Oya.
Aitken Spence expands its portfolio in hydropower in the pursuit of meeting rising energy demands, sustainable development, access to clean energy and lowering our national carbon footprint. This is the second hydropower plant which is owned and operated by Aitken Spence. Branford Hydropower (Pvt) Ltd. is the other hydropower plant with a 2.5MW capacity located in Matale. The company also owns and operates a wind power plant with 3MW capacity located in Ambewela.
“This is yet another investment made by Aitken Spence that shows our commitment to expand the power generation portfolio with renewable energy projects. Hydro power plays a key role in renewable energy segment in Sri Lanka and this initiative strengthens the country’s efforts to move towards cleaner energy sources and effective and efficient management of sustainable and affordable generation of energy supplied to the national grid,” commented Dr. Parakrama Dissanayake, Deputy Chairman and Managing Director of Aitken Spence PLC.
“Aitken Spence maintains highest environmental, safety and quality standards in the management of our power plants. These stringent management frameworks will be extended to the newly acquired power plants to meet compliance requirements as well as global benchmarks for cleaner production of energy,” added Leel Wickremarachchi, Managing Director of the power segment of Aitken Spence.
The Power segment of Aitken Spence is a leading player in the sector with a reputation for investing in pioneering technologies and has diversified into renewable energy by establishing hydro power and wind power plants to support Sri Lanka’s demand for energy. With their commitment to increase the country’s energy consumption from renewable energy sources, the company recently introduced Sri Lanka’s first waste to energy power plant that was officially launched in February 2021. Moreover, these initiatives are in line with the collective efforts of government and the private sector to produce clean energy sustainably.
Best Woman Entrepreneur at Entrepreneur Awards 2020
Christell Skin Clinic proved their mettle as industry leaders yet again, by clinching the three topmost awards at the recently held Western Province Entrepreneurship Awards Ceremony 2020. The highly-anticipated annual event -jointly organised by the National Enterprise Development Authority (NEDA) and the National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka- took place this year at the BMICH.
The event brought together industry leaders and newcomers with the aim to recognise and honour micro, small, medium and large sector entrepreneurs that have contributed significantly to Sri Lanka’s service sector over the past year.
The country’s leading aesthetics and wellness centre took home The Best Enterprise service sector trophy, as well as the Best Entrepreneur of the Year award – the most sought-after prize of the night. More notably however, the Best Woman Entrepreneur title was awarded to the director of the Christell Skin Clinic, Dr. Shanika Arsecularatne, in recognition of her inspirational journey to becoming one of the most successful businesswomen in the country, and also of her outstanding contribution to the field of cosmetology and wellness in Sri Lanka.
“I’m truly honoured to receive this recognition, especially because I believe that no one receives an award like this out of sheer luck, but rather in acknowledgement and appreciation of the hard work, sleepless nights and sacrifices we have all made, to be where we are today,” said Dr. Arsecularatne on accepting her award.
Plastic Modified Asphalt Concrete car park in Sri Lanka
The car park of the Walgama Food City with its new “Paving with Plastic”
As a socially responsible corporate citizen, Cargills holds a strong commitment to serving the nation and preserving the planet for future generations. By partnering with AGC Innovate Pvt Ltd – one of the country’s leading innovative solutions providers – Cargills initiated the launch of “Paving with Plastic” as a means to address Sri Lanka’s plastic waste menace in an ecofriendly and pragmatic approach.
The benefits of plastic are irrefutable – this versatile material is ubiquitous in our everyday lives, due to it being cheap and convenient to produce as well as being highly durable and user friendly. However, once used and disposed, plastic lingers in the environment for too long and does not decompose.
As a result, the inherent problem of plastic pollution is a global crisis, with Sri Lanka generating approximately 7000 metric tons of mismanaged solid waste daily, with 6% accounting for plastic and polythene waste. Therefore, in the absence of a proper waste management system, non-recyclable plastic is dumped in large landfill sites. These sites are now exceeding their maximum capacity, and has led to pressing environmental and social concerns in the country.
As a first step to tackling this waste plastic problem, Cargills made a landmark decision to pave the Cargills Food City Carparks using Plastic Modified Asphalt Concrete, partnering with AGC Innovate.
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