Who are they?
Where are they?
Based in the UK
What do they do?
Raise money for development projects in the Phillipines
How big are they?
No paid staff, just seven volunteers.
What did they receive?
MS FrontPage and Office Professional Plus; Symantec Norton Antivirus.
A professional software setup for a fraction of the usual cost.
Although the Philippines is not officially classed as a Developing Country, levels of poverty amongst its islanders can be exceptional. MuCAARD is a Filipino charity dedicated to encouraging sustainable development in the region; MuCAARD-UK is an associated – but independent – organisation based in the UK that aims to provide funds for schemes that will demonstrably make a difference.
“As a small charity, our best role is to pioneer new projects,” explains Ed Parry, Chairman of MuCAARD-UK. “Teams in the Philippines will submit proposals to us and we will try to fund them accordingly. We’re currently involved in a 90-hectare community reforestation project, and a 165-hectare mangrove reforestation project, for instance.” It is estimated that only 6% remains of the tropical forest that covered Mindanao, the region’s largest southerly island, as recently as the 1940s – this has led to huge problems with the degradation of land quality and soil erosion.
“We have a project aimed at enabling people to develop a livelihood with crab and shellfish,” Ed continues. “These are extremely poor people – they might earn a dollar in one day.”
A glance at MuCAARD-UK’s published balance sheet is revealing. The charity raised over twelve thousand pounds in the year 2007/08, whilst keeping its entire working costs down to just £447 – including £186 in money transfer costs. In this context it seems almost superfluous to ask whether the CTX donation programme made a difference when it came to setting up the office with professional, industry-standard software.
“Well – Microsoft Office is usually, what, £300 per seat?” laughs Ed, “Getting it would have been out of the question. CTX provided an incredible saving for us. I think we got everything for around £85.”
‘Everything’ in this case was multi-user licenses of Office, Frontpage and Norton Antivirus. “The new version of Office works seamlessly with our workplace solution,” comments Ed. “We have live documents, agendas for our meetings, shared project proposals – we don’t have to email everything round. Previously most people had old versions of Office or Works – I had to download file converters and show people how to use them.”
“We’ve used PowerPoint to generate a series of presentations to demonstrate what we do. The latest version is a very professional tool that can produce good looking presentations. We’ll be using FrontPage to improve our website.”
The charity’s systems are protected by Norton Antivirus, “a brilliant solution,” according to Ed.
“Open Source would have been great,” he says, “if it were something people were familiar with. But because people are familiar with Microsoft products, that’s very important – it’s a short learning curve for them. Although I have the IT background, I can’t do everything for them!”
MuCAARD-UK is a relatively new charity, but one that is already making a big difference – and one that very clearly demonstrates the effect that the CTX programme has on the bottom line. “I’m very happy with CTX,” concludes Ed. “It’s got a single contact point and is well managed. I’ve been very pleased with their professional approach.”
Norton AntiVirus protects computers from viruses, worms, Trojan horses, botnets, rootkits, and spyware. The program scans existing files and all incoming and outgoing data without interrupting the user.
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