Soccer team in a huddle

IT Education on the Road

September 22, 2016 by Lynn Bannerman 0

An example from South Africa shows how SAP employees share their knowledge through practical counseling.

In many parts of Africa, schools do not have the technology infrastructure that we take for granted, but Luis Murguia, senior vice president and general manager for SAP Business One, is no longer willing to accept this digital divide:

“My team helps small and midsize businesses over the world. We don’t want to just help companies use business software; we want to make a difference in the society in which we work. We want to give back by helping each person, and especially each child, become part of the digital economy.”


Africa Code Week
Coding is the language of the digital age. SAP, together with the Cape Town Science Center and the Galway Education Center, launched Africa Code Week last year to teach programing skills to children in Africa. The initiative reached 89,000 children and young people in 17 countries. This year, from October 15-23, coding workshops will again reach children in more than 30 countries.


So in July, 14 SAP Business One volunteers from 11 different countries traveled to South Africa. Working with the Cape Town Science Center, they taught basic and more advanced programming skills to 720 children and more than 500 teachers at elementary and middle schools.

Africa Code Week 2016 will offer 150,000 children the chance to learn to code using Scratch

The project is part of the Africa Code Week. In October, the initiative will give 150,000 children in 30 countries across Africa the chance to learn how to code using Scratch, the free visual programming language.

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Nomathemba Calana in the classroom at Silver Leaf elementary school.

“The world is changing,” says Ms. Nomathemba Calana, one of the train-the-trainer workshop participants who teaches at the Silver Leaf elementary school, a small community on the outskirts of Cape Town. “As teachers, we have to be ready for the next technology trend and make sure we have the right skills.”

The school is lacking many resources, especially the tools to prepare students for the digital economy. “We couldn’t wait for the team from SAP to arrive, since we know they were bringing computers. Some of our students have never had the chance to use one,” Calana says.

SAP Business One Skills for Refugees

South Africa was not the SAP Business One team’s first project. In May 2016, a team of experts went to Istanbul, Turkey. At the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit and as part of the preparations for the Refugee Code Week, they trained refugees not only in Scratch and in web programming but introduced them also to SAP Business One. The most promising students will join a boot camp to acquire advanced web programming and SAP Business One skills to emerge as searched-for junior computer engineers, ready for local and international hiring. Trainers and course participants report back in this video:


SAP Business One on the Rise
On track to reach 60,000 customers by the end of the year, with an annual support renewal rate of 95%, SAP Business One has won over many loyal SMEs. More than 2,000 customers are running SAP Business One on SAP HANA and the number is growing at a rate of 90% a year. Today North Africa and the Middle East is SAP Business One’s fastest-growing region.


Showing Enthusiasm

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Girls in Tech: Cecilia Velazquez teaching Scratch to girls at middle school level

The children weren’t the only one who were excited: “It was a great experience for all of us. We visited nine schools over two days and we didn’t really know what to expect,” says Wesley Honorato, a member of the team who is from Sales and Presales at SAP Canada. Like many of this colleagues, he’d heard of Scratch, but it was not a programming language he used everyday.

An openSAP course on Scratch was just one element of the hard work that went into preparing for the trip. The effort paid off for everyone involved. “The children were so keen to learn, and had so much curiosity and enthusiasm. They really got involved in the lessons. It was great to see how some of them were more advanced than the course materials, and tried things out and bombarded us with questions,” says Steve Gouveia, business development manager at SAP Portugal.

“Teachers can easily make Scratch part of their lessons and inspire children to write code,” says Kathryn Duval, a training development expert. Everyone involved agreed: children and teachers in Africa will benefit from the work of the team, which is led by Mercedes Del Castillo.

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Selfie time during the break

Though they have returned to everyday life, the trip has left a lasting impression on every member of the team. “I now really understand why SAP’s vision of helping the world run better and improving peoples’ lives is so important,” says Gunner Thomassen, a channel enablement and solution expert from Denmark.

“If you seize the opportunity to step out of your familiar working environment, you become much more aware of the contrasts between countries and societies, and of where you fit in,” he added.

Murguia, his manager, agrees: “We all need to realize that each of us has a role to play in making our world a better place. Giving back to society sharpens our awareness of what really matters in our world.”

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