Acting Secretary Blank Supports U.S. Companies’ Corporate Social Responsibility Efforts Abroad
Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank visited Bogotá, Colombia, today, to see how a U.S.-based company is helping to promote corporate social responsibility in a country where it does business.
In 2007, the world’s largest software company Microsoft joined forces with the nonprofit Trust for the Americas, the nonprofit Centro Laudes Infantis and the local government to create “Mi Llave,” a program designed specifically to increase computer literacy. The centers, including one that Acting Secretary Blank visited, provide economic and social opportunities to youth and vulnerable populations through access to technology, technical and vocational skills training, and more. Since its inception, 15 additional centers have opened across the country.
Acting Secretary Blank toured the facility and heard first hand testimonials from individuals who have benefitted from the services the centers provide. More than 13,000 people have been trained, and more than 270,000 people have received access to computers and the Internet since training began at Mi Llave centers.
Programs that provide basic computer literacy are crucial to ensuring job readiness for individuals. Particularly in places that have experienced conflict, such as Colombia, getting technology skills helps increase social and economic inclusion, job opportunities, and strengthen communities. In fact, many of the centers around the country are specifically focused on helping displaced combatants develop the skills they need to reenter society.
While this visit was the first opportunity for the Commerce Department to show its support of this program in Colombia, it was not the first time that Commerce leaders have praised the work of U.S. companies making a difference in the regions where they operate. For example, in November 2012, Acting Secretary Blank visited the Ford Silverton Plant in Pretoria, South Africa. There, Ford is helping South Africa achieve its goals to economically empower the community and reduce poverty and unemployment.
As part of the visit to Bogotá, Commerce and U.S. Embassy employees personally donated hard drives, books, and soccer balls, all of which are going to Centro Laudes Infantis, the non-profit that runs the centers in Bogotá.
In recent years, the idea that the companies have a responsibility to address societal changes has grown significantly, and, as demonstrated by Acting Secretary Blank’s visit today, there is an important role for the private sector to play in making these issues a key component of their business success and as citizens doing their part in creating a sustainable society.
Working together, governments, businesses and nonprofits can help nations grow and thrive. The Commerce Department will continue to support and highlight the work of social and development programs that are made possible – in part – by U.S. companies committed to corporate social responsibility.