Bridging the digital divide

Published Tue, Aug 16, 2022 · 03:50 PM

While the Covid-19 pandemic has brought digital transformation into focus, it has also widened the digital divide. Charities and underserved groups are among those struggling to keep up amid a fast-evolving digital landscape.

Singapore Pools has therefore been working closely with its charity partners to support their digitalisation efforts, as well as initiatives to boost the digital capabilities of less privileged communities.

“Digitalisation typically requires significant monetary investments. For charities which are already struggling to keep up with their fundraising targets due to the economic uncertainties, setting aside funds to digitalise may not be top on their priority list,” said Lam Chee Weng, chief executive officer of Singapore Pools.

To add, they often lack the dedicated IT resources to support digitalisation efforts and change management, according to Lam.

These challenges were underlined during the pandemic when physical fundraising initiatives were impacted and limited by Covid-19 safety measures and restrictions.

Metta Welfare Association, for instance, was unable to organise its flagship fundraising events, such as the charity run, during the pandemic.

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“We started to explore how best we can leverage on technology to assist us with fundraising during this difficult time when people are not allowed to gather with social distancing measures,” said Felicia Wee, deputy executive director of Metta Welfare Association.

In collaboration with Singapore Pools, Metta Welfare Association launched its first virtual race in 2020 where participants could record the total distance they had covered through a mobile app. Singapore Pools made a S$2 contribution for every kilometre clocked by the participants.

“As this could be done at everyone’s own time and pace, we were therefore able to get more people and the community to support this event and at the same time, learn about what Metta does,” said Wee.

Singapore Pools will continue to lend its support to Metta in this year’s hybrid race, which coincides with Metta’s 30th anniversary.

Beyond helping charities digitalise, resources have also been directed towards ensuring less privileged communities and underserved groups will be equipped with the skills and knowledge to thrive in a digital world.

Singapore Pools had, in partnership with non-profit charitable organisation RSVP Singapore, launched the Majestic Smart Seniors Applied Learning Centre for seniors to pick up digital skills at their own pace in a safe environment. 

“The Majestic Smart Seniors’ Applied Learning Centre provides a safe space for seniors to experience the latest lifestyle changes and digital technology through applied learning. They can then build confidence, integrate, and adapt these new skills into their daily lives,”  said Koh Juay Meng, chairman of RSVP Singapore. 

These seniors are often averse to online platforms due to concerns over scams, while some may not have the proper tools to access digital platforms, according to Singapore Pools’ Lam.

Classes at the learning centre are facilitated by senior volunteers from RSVP Singapore and cover key digital skills which are deeply ingrained in everyday life.

“It would be easier for seniors to overcome the fear of being unable to cope with the digital changes in their daily lives, given that they are being guided by their fellow counterparts”, said RSVP’s Koh.

For instance, seniors are taught to use e-payment apps such as DBS PayLah!, Google Pay and the FairPrice app. They are also equipped with cybersecurity knowledge to better navigate the digital landscape.

Besides sponsoring the lease on the learning centre, Singapore Pools also regularly sends staff volunteers to assist with the training sessions.

Separately, Singapore Pools is supporting the North East Community Development Council in a project to help 12 budding home-based entrepreneurs set up online shops to sell their merchandise during the festivities this year. An online training session was also provided to adequately onboard the entrepreneurs onto the e-marketplace.

Singapore Pools’ involvement in these various initiatives is part of the company’s efforts to reinvent giving by going beyond monetary sponsorships in order to improve the lives of Singaporeans, said Lam.



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