ARMONK, N.Y., Feb. 24, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- As it celebrates its Centennial, IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced that Africa is the destination for its 100th team and 1,000th employee involved in the company's Corporate Service Corps pro bono community service program.
Often called a "corporate version" of the Peace Corps, the program has made a direct economic impact in many of the 20 countries it has engaged. Participants, who are selected from among IBM's highest performing employees, provide technology-related assistance to both local governments and community organizations. Issues they tackle include local economic development, entrepreneurship, transportation, education, citizen services, health care, and disaster recovery.
For its 100th Corporate Service Corps deployment, IBM is sending 11 employees on a four-week engagement to Ghana in Africa. Arriving this weekend, the team will help to establish a Web site and student record database for the Tema Technical Institute. The team will also be tasked with helping the Electricity Company of Ghana to improve the reliability of its internal computer network -- a vital issue in many African countries tied to their economic competitiveness. IBMers will also work with a local branch of SOS Children's Village to provide a technology framework to better educate disadvantaged youngsters.
The Corporate Service Corps milestone coincides with the celebration of IBM's Centennial (www.ibm100.com). As part of a year-long, global celebration to mark its centennial, IBM is including Corporate Service Corps as one of 100 "Icons of Progress" -- significant company accomplishments during the last century. To mark IBM's Centennial, the company is highlighting its leading role in transforming business, science and society, while also predicting advances for the next century.
"Our Corporate Service Corps program epitomizes the progressive ethos of IBM's employees, both today and 100 years ago," said Stanley S. Litow, IBM's Vice President of Corporate Citizenship & Corporate Affairs, and President of IBM's Foundation. "That's why it seems very appropriate that the 100th deployment of 1,000 Corporate Service Corps volunteers intersect with IBM's Centennial. The program truly has become iconic to all who have seen how it enables a smarter, more collaborative planet."
The current engagement in Ghana comes on the heels of a number of previous Corporate Service Corps projects across Africa -- a focus continent for the program. Since July 2008, IBM's Corporate Service Corps has deployed 327 IBMers on 29 teams to African countries, including South Africa, Tanzania, Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya. Through these projects, IBM has worked with local organizations and businesses across Africa to support programs that drive economic development.
In September 2010, an IBM Corporate Service Corps team worked alongside the Kenya ICT Board, the Ministry of Information and Communication, and Digital Opportunity Trust to narrow the digital divide between rural and urban areas and to accelerate the growth of information and communications technology in Kenya. In Tanzania, IBM has been working to help the government with economic growth and job creation. To that end, it has dedicated more than 10,000 hours of technology and business expertise to the University of Dodoma, Africa Wildlife Foundation, Tanzanian Association of Tour Operators, and Institute of Accountancy.
While not an objective, Corporate Service Corps engagements can sometimes lead to commercial projects. For instance, as a result of Corporate Service Corps engagements, the government of Cross River State in Nigeria appointed IBM in the spring of 2010 to assist with the implementation of two new social welfare and healthcare initiatives to help poor women and others living in rural areas.
The Corporate Service Corps program was launched in 2008, and in the years since, has deployed skilled teams of its employees in approximately 20 countries, including Vietnam, India, Kenya, Nigeria, Brazil, and Romania. The value of their work to date is estimated at $25 million. Teams consist of employees from over 50 different countries who have specific technical and consulting expertise.
The program's mandate and portfolio has recently been broadened and deepened. For instance, in 2010 IBM created a variant of the program, called Executive Service Corps, to deploy senior executives on more advanced engagements. The teams work with city officials at the highest level on critical economic development projects focused on helping cities to become world-class "Smarter Cities." Also in 2010, IBM announced the Smarter Cities Challenge, which will dispatch teams of Executive Service Corps-level IBMers to 100 cities, half in emerging markets and half in developed ones.
IBM selects 500 IBMers per year for the Corporate Service Corps. They are chosen from a pool of thousands of applications submitted by top-tier employees and IBM executives. The teams, usually comprising between six to 10 members, are engaged for about six months. They spend two and-a-half months preparing for their assignments, one month on location, and another two and-a-half months back at IBM wrapping up their projects and mentoring teams sent to the same and other localities.
According to an independent evaluation conducted by Professor Chris Marquis at Harvard Business School, these six-month projects, each valued at $250,000, create significant value for the countries, but also produce more skilled, collaborative, loyal, and culturally aware employees for IBM. These engagements can also provide insights into new markets, and an enhanced corporate reputation.
Corporate Service Corps is sponsored by the IBM International Foundation. Via its Foundation, IBM implements key initiatives that address specific, vital issues such as education, the environment, community economic development, and health care.
IBM employs its most valuable resources -- technology and talent -- to bring these programs to fruition. Since 2003, more than 170,000 IBM employees have shared more than 11 million hours of community service, transforming communities in more than 70 countries. The expertise and time shared during that time is estimated to be valued at one-quarter of one billion U.S. dollars.
To learn more about IBM's corporate citizenship initiatives, visit: http://www.ibm.com/blogs/citizen-ibm. To learn more about People for a Smarter Planet on Facebook, visit www.facebook.com/peopleforasmarterplanet. To learn more about IBM's Centennial, visit www.ibm100.com.