Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella visited Latin America last week to learn and see first-hand how technology is transforming thousands of lives in the region, with new job skills, entrepreneurial opportunities, innovative services and stronger, digitally inclusive societies.
Nadella met with developers, students, startups and community and business leaders in Chile, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico, where he reinforced Microsoft’s commitment to foster innovation, create opportunities and help businesses grow in Latin America.
“Innovation … will come from every corner of the planet, [including] Latin America,” Nadella said during his stop in Chile.
A presence in Latin America for nearly 30 years, Microsoft has helped create more than one million jobs in the region, supported more than 5,000 new startups and donated more than $441 million in software and cash to nonprofits. More than 100,000 companies use the Microsoft cloud, and the use of Office 365, Microsoft Azure and Dynamics CRM Online tools has helped create triple-digit growth—a sign of a thriving digital transformation in the region.
As part of its commitment to young people, Microsoft’s YouthSpark initiative has benefitted 49 million Latin American youths and its Imagine Cup contest has inspired students globally, including in Brazil with two winning teams.
During his visit, Nadella emphasized how technology, including the Microsoft Azure cloud platform, can empower businesses, startups and organizations in Latin America to transform. For example, Azure supports an online taxpayer service in Mexico, the first service of its kind in the country. It helps issue electronic invoices, provides direct customer support to taxpayers who need to check, cancel or download electronic invoices, and provides reception services to more than 85 authorized certification providers. In Brazil, Azure and Office 365 will play key roles in the Rio 2016 Games, with rich platforms and immersive fan experiences. Microsoft Translator is also helping to preserve Yucatec Maya and Querétaro Otomi, threatened indigenous languages in the region.
“I want us as a company to stand for our customers’ success,” Nadella said. “Because if I think about the identity of Microsoft, it is centered around providing digital technology to others who are going to do magical things.”
Click the slideshow for a closer look at some of the people Nadella met during his visit and how Microsoft is helping their countries.
In Chile, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella emphasized Microsoft’s role in transforming entrepreneurship and business innovation. He held a fireside chat on the topics with more than 100 CEOs and was the guest speaker at a lively innovation forum with Start-Up Chile General Manager Rocío Fonseca (pictured).
Nadella also chatted with young people with big ideas in Chile. He met with high school student Belén Guede, a YouthSpark Challenge for Change contest winner, whose Cultura Tech program will offer free coding and robotics training for youths.
“Children have enormous potential and amazing creativity, yet in some places the opportunity to learn computer science is limited and often out of their reach, so it ends up not getting their attention,” said Guede, 17, who also wants to make libraries fun for kids.
To help drive startups, Microsoft opened a digital business incubator, Imagine Business Lab (pictured), in Chile with local partners and CORFO, the Chilean government economic development agency. The lab has supported such innovative startups as PasajeBus, makers of a streamlined bus ticketing platform, and Kappo, creators of a platform that encourages bike-riding and better bike infrastructure.
In Brazil, Nadella met with Anhembi Morumbi University students (pictured), who are working on projects such as Bridge, a set of games specially developed to address problems of disorders that are related to a lack of movement or cognition, and Pixel Ticket, which is focused on the sales, control and distribution management of tickets for concerts, sporting events, theaters and other activities, through technology.
He also talked with Dotz CEO Roberto Chade and Linx founder Nércio Fernandes on how Microsoft’s intelligent cloud and technologies have transformed their businesses. And he discussed tech trends with the country’s top business executives and met with leaders of one of Brazil’s largest banking and financial companies.
Nadella made time to meet with YouthSpark advisor Wanderson Skrock, who was arrested twice as a teen for dealing drugs while growing up in a Rio de Janiero slum, but a computer class in jail motivated Skrock to learn technology, finish high school and graduate from college. Skrock now helps thousands of people learn tech and business skills with the Committee for the Democratization of Information Technology (CDI), a Microsoft partner and the organization that changed his life.
In Brazil, Nadella met Lívia and Cecília, two young girls with cerebral palsy who bowl on Xbox as part of an innovative Kinect-enabled therapy at an institute managed by AACD, a nonprofit that helps children with disabilities.
While in Brazil, Nadella chatted with the eFitFashion team (pictured), which won this year’s Imagine Cup world championship with its online marketplace of custom clothes for all body types. He also met with ProDeaf founder and Imagine Cup winner João Paulo, whose software translates text and voice into Brazilian Sign Language, or Libras.
“One of my favorite things to do is spending time with students and young entrepreneurs – their energy and pursuit of new ideas and innovation is contagious,” Nadella wrote on Instagram.
Nadella continued his journey in Bogota, Colombia, where he met with members of the Arhuaco community (pictured), an indigenous group that lives in Colombia’s remote, northern mountains. The group has traditionally kept their land records in books, which they had to carry when doing agricultural work and property reviews. But a few years ago, Microsoft teamed up with the Arhuacos and the Colombian government to create a cloud-based Microsoft Dynamics CRM system to store the information online.
The Arhuacos’ mobile, cloud-based information system now helps them do land reviews quickly and preserve their records, which helps them preserve their culture and environment in Colombia. While in Colombia, Nadella also met with top business and government officials.
Nadella finished his trip in Mexico, where he shared Microsoft’s power to foster productivity and new opportunities with an Innovation FEST audience of more than a thousand IT pros, developers and entrepreneurs. He demonstrated Microsoft’s intelligent cloud technology and invited people to take advantage of the company’s tools to build new solutions for Mexico.
Nadella also met with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto and emphasized Microsoft’s long-term commitment to the country, with potential to be a key government IT ally for improving economic productivity.
In Mexico, Nadella met a trio of YouthSpark participants at a YouthSpark-POETA center, which empowers young people, particularly girls, with tech and entrepreneurial skills. The YouthSpark participants included Luis Felipe Canales González, who won a prestigious poster contest with Microsoft Paint, beating out design pros with more sophisticated drawing tools.
They also included Jessica Núñez, an indigenous teen who enrolled in an online school program after learning to use a computer, and Jacqueline Ordonez, who started her own clothing business with help from Microsoft-supported Mision Emprende.
Lead photo: Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, center, stands with the eFitFashion team in Brazil on Sept. 29, 2015 during his visit to Latin America. The team was the 2015 Imagine Cup world champion.