More start-ups across Africa will now have access to Microsoft software, services, funding, mentorship technical support and the like to help them scale and secure investment. Microsoft, through its 4Afrika Initiative, has collaborated with Seedstars, GrowthAfrica, AfriLabs and DEMO Africa to achieve this.
Key support from Microsoft across these partnerships will include:
• Sponsorship of key events, including the Seedstars local competitions & regional summit and the DEMO Africa Traction Series at the CIO100 Symposium and Awards.
• Providing technical support and training for AfriLabs, the pan-African innovation hub network, starting with the AfriLabs Annual Gathering bootcamp on 24 October, before the Annual Gathering on 25-27 October. The AfriLabs Annual Gathering will provide an opportunity for members and stakeholders from technology and innovation hubs all over Africa to convene and learn the latest hub insights. AfriLabs focuses on the grassroots innovation ecosystem.
• Acceleration funding for selected high potential start-ups and SMEs in the DEMO Africa and Seedstars programmes.
• Technical support, training and access to software through MySkills4Afrika, the Microsoft Virtual Academy and BizSpark, for start-ups and SMEs in the GrowthAfrica, DEMO Africa and Seedstars programmes.
“These organisations all share a common goal with Microsoft: To create an environment where key role players are working together to support start-up needs. What start-ups need is access to markets, finance, technology, skills, and information & services. By working together, we are addressing all of these areas, reaching a bigger pool of high impact start-ups and ultimately fast-tracking start-up growth and local economic development,” says Djiba Diallo, Startup Engagement Lead, Microsoft 4Afrika.
Since launching 4Afrika Initiative in 2013, Microsoft has embarked on a number of ventures focused on developing start-ups and SMEs. In addition to the above, these have included innovation grants, collaborations with innovation hubs and the launch of Biz4Afrika – a platform that provides start-ups and SMEs with content, advisory services and on online directory where SMEs can trade with similar-sized businesses. Currently, over 138,000 SMEs are growing their businesses on the platform.
Prominent entrepreneurs like Abiola Olaniran, CEO of Gamsole, the leading mobile gaming company in Africa with over 10 million downloads worldwide, praised Microsoft’s 4Afrika efforts. “My success story will not be complete without acknowledging the support and mentorship of Microsoft Nigeria and I am amazed what the right support and mentorship given to the younger generation can do,” says Abiola.
Commenting on the partnership, Marcello Schermer, Regional Manager for Africa at Seedstars World, says: “Technology is an essential catalyst for a start-up or SME, particularly in the cloud-first, mobile-first world. To have a technology partner like Microsoft on board is exciting, and we look forward to the technical, financial and mentorship support that they will bring to our start-up ecosystem.”
“We believe that by supporting ambitious, committed and capable entrepreneurs we can accelerate their growth trajectory. With partners like Microsoft 4Afrika, we can further empower entrepreneurs to create income generating opportunities that will create social and economic transformation,” adds Ian Lorenzen, Executive Director & Partner at GrowthAfrica.
“Microsoft 4Afrika coming on board as a sponsor for our AfriLabs bootcamp will create opportunities for start-ups by providing business and technical tools, and resources for developing their solutions and showcasing them during the Annual Gathering. The bootcamp is the first of many to come as AfriLabs continues to work with key partners and tech hubs,” says Anna Egbagbe, Head of Secretariat, AfriLabs.
Seedstars World is a part of the Swiss group Seedstars and runs the global start-up competition covering 65+ emerging and developing markets. Our mission is to impact people’s lives in emerging markets through the promotion and investment in entrepreneurship and technology.
GrowthAfrica supports enterprising change through acceleration of post-revenue African start-ups and businesses. GrowthAfrica’s theory of change is built on the assumption that Africa’s most potent route to social and economic transformation goes through ensuring that as many of its citizens have an opportunity to become productive members of their communities.
AfriLabs is a pan-African network of 40 technology innovation hubs in 20 African countries. It was founded in 2011 to build a community around the rapidly emerging tech hubs in Africa. Each hub serves as a nexus for entrepreneurs, technologists, investors, tech companies and web/mobile engineers in its community who are set to build innovation economy across Africa.
About DEMO Africa
DEMO Africa is one of the flagship initiatives of LIONS@Africa and aims to connect African startups to the global ecosystem. This year for the first time the DEMO Africa Traction event series is co-located with the CIO100 Symposium.