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Helping bridge the digital divide

Wednesday, November 23, 2016 - 05:50

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Above: Samsung employees participating in a classroom activity at the recent Samsung Love and Care Programme in Cambodia.

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Above: Samsung employee with a student at one of the Smart Schools in Taiwan.

AS one of the largest information technology companies in the world, Samsung Electronics believes that being a global citizen is a key factor to its success. This means being committed to giving back to the communities in which the group operates.

"At Samsung, we believe that success is measured not only by business achievements, but also by how well a business serves its communities and makes a difference in people's lives. We embrace our responsibility as a good corporate citizen, making an effort to foster a better society and strengthen communities," says Irene Ng, vice-president, corporate marketing, Samsung Southeast Asia & Oceania, which was named Community Care Company of the Year at the Asia Corporate Excellence & Sustainability Awards 2016.

Globally, Samsung Electronics' offerings include home appliances such as TVs, monitors, refrigerators and washing machines, as well as key mobile telecommunications products such as smartphones and tablets. The group also supplies key electronic components such as DRAM and non-memory semi-conductors

"Samsung's business strategy is driven by its deep understanding of people, cultures and the impact of technologies that drives growth and create new business streams and markets. This vision is at the very core of our commitment to lead innovation in digital technology. We are committed to grow our business to help people live better and quality lives," says Ms Ng.

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She adds: "We want to use our skills, knowledge and expertise to empower members of the communities, tackling key issues relating to education, employment, healthcare as well as arts and culture."

With a view that education is the basis for innovation, the company has set up more than 160 Samsung Smart Schools across South-east Asia and the Oceania region. What's more, Samsung has developed solutions that meet specific local educational needs in almost 800 schools.

These efforts aim to harness technology to create immersive learning opportunities for students and bridge the digital divide, explains Ms Ng.

Furthermore, Samsung has established in 34 countries the Tech Institute, a global initiative to increase the number and quality of technicians, to address a shortfall of technical talent. There are 20 such institutes in South-east Asia and Oceania alone.

The group has also launched healthcare-related initiatives in many regions around the world, including China, South-east Asia, the Middle East and Africa. These come in the form of offering healthcare services to underprivileged areas through mobile health centres and providing medical training related to prenatal ultrasound.

"Our objective is to support the regions that lack sufficient medical technologies and trained staff, which may lead to problems such as high rates of infant and maternal mortality," says Ms Ng.

Employee involvement

Samsung employees actively participate in their community care initiatives. One way they do so is through an annual regional employee volunteer programme known as Samsung Love and Care.

In October this year, some 56 employees from 11 countries spent time with more than 2,800 children in Cambodia. The programme used technology and other resources to address educational gaps and social issues in communities in the capital of Phnom Penh.

"We believe that technology can go a long way in empowering youths. By addressing the local needs and focusing on the children's well being, we want to make a positive difference. For our employees, this is our chance to give our best to the community in Cambodia," says Ms Ng.

Using Samsung tablets and mobile learning apps, the volunteers bonded with the children over interactive learning games, teaching them numerical and literacy skills. Volunteers also helped with simple refurbishments for the schools, such as giving a fresh coat of paint for the classroom walls and tables.

Samsung employees around the world also come together every year to participate in the company's annual Global Volunteer Month throughout October. Now in its twenty-second year, this year's event saw participation of around 2,200 teams consisting of over 160,000 Samsung employees, their family members and citizens of local communities.

"Volunteering opportunities provide employees with the platform to bond and connect, not just with one another, but with members of the communities that our programmes target. As a whole, we are keen to strengthen communities from the bottom-up, heightening social capital and connectedness," notes Ms Ng.

To guide its community efforts, Samsung has a Corporate Citizenship Committee to ensure legal compliance around ethical issues as well as oversee the company's contributions in promoting public welfare. The company also has dedicated citizenship teams in each country to drive its initiatives, and aims to involve at least 30 per cent of our employees annually.

Samsung regularly evaluates its existing initiatives to ensure their relevance and effectiveness, to best address the different communities' needs and wants.

"We continue to work closely with partner organisations and local communities in the planning of potential new programmes. By constantly keeping our ears to the ground, we make an effort to identify the evolving needs of the communities," says Ms Ng.

"This understanding allows us to create new programmes and tailor existing ones to best suit the needs of the communities. We are keen to create positive differences and make a lasting impact on the local communities in which we operate in."

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