MICROSOFT has announced the expansion of the Microsoft Ventures partnership programme to East Africa.
Microsoft Ventures will offer tools, resources, expertise and routes to market for startups through partnerships with accelerators around the world.
According to Amrote Abdella, director, 4Afrika Venture Capital and Startup Programmes, the company has selected 88mph as its first African accelerator partner.
The partner 88mph has been chosen for its proven model of helping launch and secure funding for innovative African startups. Together, Microsoft and 88mph will work to provide startups with mentorship, technology guidance, seed funding, joint selling opportunities and more.
Mr Abdella said they will take on a holistic approach to helping startups get off the ground through a community evangelism programme including Microsoft BizSpark, an accelerator programme and a seed fund that works with startups worldwide.
The expansion into Africa is being conducted as part of the recently launched Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative and will prioritise startups in key sectors including agriculture, education and healthcare.
"Through the 4Afrika Initiative, we are deeply committed to fostering African innovation and to fuelling Africa's economic growth and competitiveness, and we are very proud to see Microsoft Ventures extend its reach into the African continent," he said.
"We strongly believe that with the right support, African startups hold tremendous potential to impact both their local economies and the world's perception of African-led innovation and entrepreneurship." Startups will be selected based on the globally established criteria of Microsoft Ventures:
Applying companies must have a full-time founding team, a bold vision for tackling a real problem, technologically driven solutions and less than $1 million raised. In Africa, Microsoft is also looking for solutions that can scale across and even outside the African continent.
"Microsoft is a company that deeply understands the value of the ecosystem and we believe that by working together, 88mph and Microsoft can offer a world-class launch pad to African startups looking to achieve true scale," said Nikolai Barnwell, Nairobi director, 88mph.
"We share a deep commitment to the African startup community and look forward to showcasing more and more African innovators on the world stage."