Microsoft Corp. has announced the five African startups it will award innovation grants designed to provide the financial support needed to cross borders and empower the next generation of developers and entrepreneurs in Africa.
The grant is part of the company’s 4Afrika Initiative, which was launched in February 2013 to facilitate the company’s active engagement in Africa’s economic development to improve its global competitiveness.
Last year, Microsoft 4Afrika extended the Microsoft Ventures partnership program to Africa, with startup accelerator 88mph as its first partner.
Through the 4Afrika Initiative, Microsoft is now extending its support to include grants to startups, selecting five startups as the first set of recipients.
The startups were selected based on the uniqueness and scalability of their solutions, their business models and the relevance of the key problems they are addressing.
The solutions and apps developed by the startups are relevant to consumers and the African market, ranging from agriculture, education and consumer (gaming).
These startups will receive funding:
• access.mobile LLC (Uganda) A solution with a key focus in the agriculture and healthcare industries, giving enterprises the ability to collect, analyse and share clear, real-time information about their operations and supply chain activity.
• Africa 118 (Kenya) A mobile directory services solution that helps bridge the information gap both for enterprises and consumers.
• Gamsole (Nigeria) A mobile game production company creating Windows games, with downloads topping more than 4 million.
• Kytabu (Kenya) A textbook leasing application for low-cost tablets. Students can save more than 60 percent of their education cost by renting their textbooks on an hourly, weekly, monthly, school term or annual plan.
• Save & Buy (Nigeria) A Web and mobile platform that enables Nigerians to save toward the purchase of items conveniently and securely through e-commerce channels.
In addition to grants, Microsoft will provide technical support and mentorship to help these startups develop their businesses through the company’s Center of Expertise.
This group of Microsoft technology enthusiasts focuses on using Microsoft tools and technologies to solve business problems. The 4Afrika Initiative aims to help startups break through barriers and reach new heights with the help of Microsoft’s data platform solutions, unified communications, optimized desktops and enterprise project management.
Amrote Abdella, director of startup engagement and Partnerships for 4Afrika, said: “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.”
The Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative is designed to help Africa improve its global competitiveness and, in just under a year, has successfully launched various programs across the continent, including these recent innovation grants, to reach is 2016 goal.