Microsoft India today announced a collaboration with SBI Foundation to create opportunities for youth living with disabilities in the Banking, Financial Services and Insurance (BFSI) sector.
The three-year program was launched by Jean-Philippe Courtois, Executive Vice President and President, Global Sales, Marketing and Operations, Microsoft and Rajnish Kumar, Chairman, SBI at an event in Mumbai. Through this collaboration, Microsoft and the SBI Foundation will equip youth living with disabilities with the technology and training needed to better prepare them for integration into the BFSI workforce.
In its first year, the program aims to upskill 500 youth for BFSI jobs across five major geographies, including Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Mumbai and the National Capital Region. The program will be driven in collaboration with various government organisations, industry skilling bodies and non-profits. The goal is to build a sustainable and scalable program that not only empowers youth with the skills they need to find employment in the financial services industry, but also advances cross-industry advocacy efforts to drive inclusion for and hiring of people living with disabilities.
As part of this joint effort, Microsoft and the SBI Foundation will also develop an Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered marketplace that will enable the BFSI industry to more easily connect to people living with disabilities for upskilling and employment opportunities.
Speaking at the event, Jean-Philippe Courtois said, “Focusing on accessibility, diversity and inclusion is central to delivering on our mission of empowering every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. With over 26 million people living with disabilities in India, it’s essential that we find new ways to use technology to enable everyone to fully participate in the 21st century economy. By partnering with SBI Foundation, we have an amazing opportunity to benefit both people living with disabilities and the BSFI sector.”
Rajnish Kumar, Chairman, SBI said, “SBI has always striven for inclusion and empowerment of people with disabilities in the banking sector. We are also helping our peer banks to do so. Our collaboration with Microsoft will help us leverage technology and our experience in training employees with disabilities will open more avenues for employment and engagement of people with disabilities not only in the banking sector, but the entire BFSI sector.”
About SBI Foundation
SBI Foundation is the CSR arm of State Bank of India which was launched in 2015 to carry out its CSR activities as well as those of its subsidiaries. As the CSR arm of the premier bank of India, SBI Foundation aims to be the leading institution promoting growth and equality responsive to the communities it serves, particularly the vulnerable and marginalised sections of the society.
SBI runs a Centre of Excellence for Persons with Disabilities (CoE) which is one of SBI Foundation’s flagship programmes and was launched in 2017 with the goal of institutionalising the inclusion and empowerment of people with disabilities, removing barriers to employment and employability of people with disabilities and to spread greater awareness about the abilities of people with disabilities. In the past three years, CoE has made significant strides in its objectives and aims to become a leader in disability inclusion in the near future. SBIF has also partnered with 11 Public Sector Banks and RBI Academy to train their employees with disabilities.
Speaking to the media at a press conference today, Rajnish Kumar said SBI wants to share domain knowledge with people who have disabilities and that the Bank is open to working with disabled employees in other organizations. The aim is to provide domain knowledge and build skills for opportunities in the Banking and Financial Services industries.
At this stage it is not quite clear how SBI is going to work with NGOs and other organizations to execute this plan. It will need to first build an ecosystem of players who can take the technology and knowledge to the intended audiences. It is also not clear what kind of “marketplace” Microsoft will build, and what apps will be put on this marketplace–or how it will be made available for users.
However, Microsoft has a track record of building AI-enabled apps for the disabled/healthcare and working with Indian NGOs. It has also worked state governments and universities to provide learning solutions through Microsoft Global Learning Solutions.
SBI has rich domain knowledge in Banking and Financial Services, and it will benefit from Microsoft’s AI-enabled learning platforms–for disseminating this knowledge.
Stay tuned for more Microsoft stories and our coverage of Satya Nadella’s visit to India this week.