Do Well by Doing Good'

By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2011-09-22 Print this article Print


Litow said the Corporate Service Corps program provides local communities with the services and expertise of IBM's top talent. It cultivates future IBM leaders from all parts of the globe to offer pro-bono business and IT consulting in growth markets. Since the launch of the CSC in 2008, nearly 1,400 IBM employees have been dispatched on more than 120 team assignments in 24 countries, including Brazil, Cambodia, Chile, China, Ghana, India, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Nigeria, Poland, Morocco, Tanzania and Vietnam. Competition to participate in the program is steep. Litow said between 8,000 and 9,000 applicants vie for spots in the CSC but IBM only takes about 500 per year.

IBM currently has two Corporate Service Corps teams on the ground in Morogoro, Tanzania, working with the country's postal system, and a team in Limpopo, South Africa, assisting in the development of an education strategy in conjunction with the Limpopo Department of Education. Other IBM Corporate Service Corps teams are due to arrive in Ghana and Kenya in October.

"Expanding the Corporate Service Corps will differentiate IBM by providing us with a next generation of skilled leaders while helping nations around the world solve their most pressing problems," Litow said in a statement. "This is a model that increasingly our clients will be emulating. Given that IBM anticipates 30 percent of its geographic revenue will be tied to emerging markets by 2015, the Corporate Service Corps allows IBM to do well by doing good -- especially in Africa."

Litow added that IBM enterprise customers such as FedEx, John Deere and Dow Chemical have instituted programs similar to IBM's CSC program.

In addition, taking notice of IBM's success, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) recently announced it is working with IBM to increase U.S.-based international corporate volunteerism, which Washington, DC-based CDC Development Solutions (CDS) estimates has risen from just 280 employees dispatched in 2006 to 2,000 employee volunteers in 58 nations this year. Now IBM, USAID and CDS are providing corporations of all sizes with strategies needed to make their own international volunteerism projects more effective.

Also, a new survey shows that the Corporate Service Corps is helping IBM employees develop leadership and problem-solving skills. Nine of every 10 participants in the program said their international corporate service experience provided them with an excellent leadership opportunity, while helping them better understand IBM's role in the developing world, increasing their cultural awareness, and making them more effective at their jobs. And Litow said eight out of 10 said the program increased the likelihood of them continuing their careers with IBM.

IBM officials said Corporate Service Corps projects reinforce the transformation of Africa, which is building out its technology infrastructure, civic and social institutions in light of a growing middle class.  In Nigeria's Cross River province, IBM teams developed programs to provide free health care to mothers and young children, as well as one that provides financial assistance to disadvantaged households to spur entrepreneurialism, Di Leo said.

In Ghana, IBM teams have worked on projects to narrow the digital divide between rural and urban areas. In Kenya, IBM employees have provided advice to improve the country's ability to develop and retain top technology talent; modernize the national postal service; and establish a framework for e-government services for citizens, including electronic voting. In Tanzania, IBMers helped the country develop an eco-tourism industry and adopt technology in its universities.


Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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