This article was written by Nate Hurst, Chief Sustainability and Social Impact Officer of HP, and Mary Snapp, Corporate Vice President of Microsoft Philanthropies. It was originally published here.

Malawi, Africa is one of the most underserved nations in the world. More than half of Malawians live on just $1 per day. Close to 40,000 people living in Malawi today are refugees — 28,000 of them now call Dzaleka Refugee Camp home after fleeing from genocide and political instability in their countries.

One way to empower refugees to break the cycle of poverty is by bridging the digital divide through education. And that’s exactly what HP and Microsoft are doing.

As part of their commitment to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) Connectivity for Refugees program, HP and Microsoft have launched AppFactory. The program aims to bring quality learning to the people living in Dzaleka and works to improve software development, IT skills development, and entrepreneurship training in the camp. By teaching refugees to be technologically savvy, refugees will have the tools they need to succeed in today’s hyper-globalized, digital economy beyond Malawi’s borders.

This is the first AppFactory implemented within a refugee community and is aimed at building economic and learning opportunities for people in the camp. The program is part of the Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative, through which the company helps provide access to critical skill-building programs on the African continent. Microsoft is also working to provide affordable access to technology, such as the “white spaces” Internet connectivity infrastructure they have built out in and around Dzaleka, through this initiative.

HP is providing computing technology to ensure refugee youth living in the Malawi camp have the devices needed to participate in AppFactory.

In addition to providing tools and training, AppFactory includes an internship program that creates opportunities for talented and passionate refugees to cultivate world-class software development skills. Through a hands-on approach, students will work with real scenarios locally across the Refugee Ambassador community, and will be mentored by fully dedicated, experienced master software craftsmen from the industry. The in-demand IT skills and experience students gain from this program will enable them to pursue careers anywhere on the continent or around the world.

Affordable, accessible Internet is the first step in building a collaborative ecosystem to provide quality learning, health, safety, and services to the people residing in Dzaleka. With Internet access and the necessary tools to harness the power of technology, refugees in Dzaleka will have the chance to transcend borders and succeed in the global digital economy.


Defeat Poverty

How Technology and Connectivity Can Extend Refugees' Opportunities Beyond Borders