CIO East Africa (Nairobi)

Africa: Microsoft to Support Five Startups Under Innovation Grant Program

Microsoft under the 4Afrika initiative will offer financial support to five African start-ups in an effort to empower the next generation of developers and entrepreneurs in the continent.

The five start-ups that will benefit from the initiative include access, mobile, Africa 118, Gamsole, Kytabu and Save & Buy.

This is the first set of recipients following the extension of the Microsoft ventures program to Africa that has 88mph as its first partner.

Microsoft says the start-ups were chosen based on their uniqueness and scalability, business model as well as the relevance of the problems they were meant to solve.

The startups the company says have products that are relevant to consumers and the African market including education, consumer (gaming) and agriculture.

The five start-ups will further get technical support and mentorship to develop their businesses through Microsoft's centre of expertise that focuses on solving business problems.

According to director for startup engagement and partnerships for 4Afrika Amrote Abdella the initiative will also boost local innovation and give the startups a fighting chance on the world class Microsoft platform.

"As part of the 4Afrika initiative, we are excited to be supporting startups that have developed innovative solutions that address key issues in Africa. Our support is aimed to showcase the importance of local innovation, but, more important, it highlights the great potential that African innovators have in competing with world-class developers and entrepreneurs," says Amrote.

The innovation grant program also enables startups with the help of Microsoft's data platforms solutions, unified communications, optimized desktops and enterprise project management.

In addition to grants, Microsoft will provide technical support and mentorship to help these startups.

Gamsole chief executive officer Abiola Olaniran who has already developed various games for Windows mobile says the grant helps startups bootstrap their companies without losing equity or control.

"It allows us to not miss out on the kind of fast growth that only major cash infusion can provide," he said.

Microsoft 4Africa general manager Fernando de Sousa adds that the smart capital also enables world class companies emerge from startups through sharing of some of the global best practices and access to markets with the infrastructure provided by local partners

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