Microsoft is to award innovation grants to five African startups as part of its Microsoft 4Afrika initiative, which was designed to aid the continent’s economic development and improve its global competitiveness.
The grants have been awarded to support startups developing unique and scalable solutions, which address the key needs of consumers and the wider African market. The five startups also have strong business models and include:
access.mobile: The Ugandan company’s solutions enable enterprises in the agriculture and healthcare industries to collect, analyse and share real-time information about their operations and supply chain activity.
Africa 118: developed in Kenya, this is a mobile directory services solution that helps bridge the information gap both for enterprises and consumers.
Kytabu: Through this Kenyan company, students can lease their textbooks on low-cost tablets on an hourly, weekly, monthly, school term or annual plan. This will reduce individual students’ education costs by more than 60%.
Save & Buy: This online and mobile platform helps Nigerians save toward the purchase of items conveniently and securely through e-commerce channels.
Gamsole: A mobile game production company creating Windows games, with downloads in excess of four million.
“As part of the 4Afrika initiative, we will support startups that have developed innovative solutions addressing key issues in Africa,” said Amrote Abdella, director of startup engagement and partnerships at 4Afrika. “Our support is aimed to showcase the importance of local innovation, but more importantly, it highlights the great potential that African innovators have in competing with world-class developers and entrepreneurs.”
In addition, Microsoft will provide technical support and mentorship to help the five startups develop their businesses through its Center of Expertise. This will give the companies access to Microsoft’s technology experts, as well as its data platform solutions, unified communications, optimised desktops and enterprise project management.
, the company has launched various programmes across the continent and established a Microsoft Ventures partnership programme. By 2016, the company aims to have given millions of smart devices to African students, set up one million small and medium-sized African enterprises online and improve the skills of 100,000 members of Africa’s workforce. It also aims to help an additional 100,000 recent graduates develop skills for employability, while finding 75% of these students employment.
“Microsoft 4Afrika is partnering with local organisations to create opportunities for young African innovators to access ‘smart capital’,” said Fernando de Sousa, general manager for Microsoft 4Afrika. “Smart capital combines access to finance, technical skills development, business mentoring, sharing of global best practices and access to markets with the infrastructure provided by local partners to enable world-class companies to emerge from Africa.”
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