18 August 2021

Building a more digital society together

The ING Fund for a More Digital Society is committed to the digital inclusion of vulnerable people.

Nowadays, knowing how to manage everyday tasks via digital platforms has become a must. Whether it's looking up train times, checking job vacancies, keeping in touch with your child's school, making a doctor's appointment, registering for a service or banking – it’s all going digital.

But 4 out of every 10 Belgians are being left behind. Indeed, some have few or no digital skills which means they’re at risk of digital exclusion.

Digital exclusion in numbers

  • Almost 1 in 3 low-income households don’t have an internet connection
  • 40% of Belgians have poor digital skills and
  • This figure rises to 75% among people with low incomes and low levels of education. 55% and 67%, respectively, don’t carry out administrative procedures online.

To support digital inclusion and other societal goals, we set up the philanthropic ING Fund for a More Digital Society alongside the King Baudouin Foundation in 2005. And in 2019 and 2020, we put out a call for projects aimed at strengthening digital inclusion by helping people develop their digital skills and ensuring that digital products and services are accessible by all.

As a result, 7 projects were selected to receive financial support, with amounts ranging from 38,000 to 150,000 euros. These projects work towards the digital inclusion of vulnerable people, preventing them from becoming more disadvantaged or isolated. 

The 7 projects we support

  • Startup WeTechCare is developing a bilingual educational platform that provides tools (manuals, instructional videos, etc.) to professional and community workers and their family members so that they can help others on the internet. The platform also provides an overview of organisations that offer digital training, starting at the basic level.
  • The cities of Antwerp, Ghent and Kortrijk have been working on digital inclusion for years. Together with Digipolis, they‘re combining their knowledge to come up with the ideal Inclusive Digital Neighbourhood. The unique concept will be tested it in two neighbourhoods and the results will form the basis of a toolbox of methods that can be used by other cities and municipalities.
  • Hobo, a day centre for the homeless in Brussels, organises computer workshops adapted to the needs and level of the target group. The sessions aim to strengthen their autonomy by empowering them to use digital tools, which is often an essential skill. For example, when it comes to doing their personal admin or looking for work and accommodation.
  • Through their Digital Travellers initiative, Libraries Without Borders in Brussels invites slightly older single women to breakfast events with an added incentive – a workshop to help them manage their admin online and a safe space where they can ask all their questions.
  • With their DIGITarc project, Namur non-profit organisation ARC (Action and Cultural Research) aims to help emerging entrepreneurs, among others, who lack the necessary skills to position their business correctly on the internet. This can include senior citizens, newcomers to Belgium and basically all those who don’t have sufficient access to digital opportunities.
  • Special education school Sainte-Gertrude in Brugelette held a pilot project to support pupils who have a disability in the use of digital tools which enable them communicate and increase their independence. Now, this project is being extended to all pupils.
  • BeCode is an organisation that provides intensive training in computer programming on its 5 campuses. In 7 months, it aims to prepare jobseekers to build a career in new technologies.